Thursday, April 28, 2011

Confessions of a Slow Writer

Last week, the local radio station interviewed me about my writing life. I found this rather amusing because I am 1) a part-time freelancer who still only supplements her income with writing profits and 2) still shopping for a literary agent which means The Novel isn't even a book, just a Word document (filled with hope!) on my hard drive. That said, it was really fun pretending to be an expert about the writing biz! ;P

The entire interview I was worried I'd get that inevitable question that all writers get asked: "What does a typical writing day look for you?" Thankfully that question never came up.

Because to be honest, I don't really have a typical writing day. I'd love to say that from X hour until Y hour I work on my creative writing projects. And that on a certain day of the week I focus on my freelance projects. Or that I spend an hour every evening/afternoon/morning/whatever doing blog business. But it's really kind of a free-for-all. I do get to everything and met my deadlines, but I don't exactly have a focused approach. I should probably get a little more organized if I actually want to turn this into a business . . . . 

Here's the thing. Whenever I make a goal like "I'm going to write 1000 words on this work in progress every day" it goes really well for the first three days or so and then I kind of peter out. I actually do much better with weekly goals. That way I have the luxury of completing goals when inspiration strikes instead of writing rather uninspired "cardboard-ish" prose every morning because I feel like I should. My completed novel was written by committing to write 1000 words every week. Only in the last two months of that writing project, when I really had momentum, could I churn out 500 words on it 5 times a week.

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Well, sometimes I fail at the steady part. Sometimes I'm just slow.

I always felt really guilty about being a slow writer. Then I ran into the work of fellow Minnesota Erin Hart, a mystery writer, who calls herself a "molasses-in-January" slow writer.

Maybe this slow writing thing comes from being a Minnesota writer. Maybe the cold weather makes our brains work slower. Or maybe it's just easier to find excuses to be dormant when the world's covered with snow six months out of the year. And after all, it's not that we're not writing, it's just that the words seem to have a round-about way of getting to the page.

I could keep feeling guilty about my putzy writerly ways. Or I could just finally realize I'm never going to be one of those people who can write a novel draft in a month and I can let the words meander in and out of my life as they will. As long as I keep putting the pen to paper on a regular basis I am making progress: one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter at a time.

Are you a slow writer? Or a slow anything?! Have you come to terms with any sort of inconvenient aspect of your personality? 

20 comments:

  1. Where did you start off looking for freelance writing? I'm both. Some projects take me FOR-E-VER to write and others I push out with a snap of my fingers. I think it depends on the subject matter or how passionate I'm feeling.

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  2. New follower. When you get the chance please follow me back.. http://realadventuresfromamomof3.blogspot.com/

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  3. Your words resonate with me!! I guess it's the rain in the Pacific NorthWest that slows me down-- dampness causing arthritis in the fingers makes cramping over the keyboard makes for less activity... at least that's what I'll tell myself today! I identify with your goals and schedule. I did the NaNoWriMo in 2009 and the words tumbled out fast and furious the closer I got to the deadline. I participate in a weekly writing challenge that ends at midnight on Wednesday. Typically, my story comes out on Wednesday afternoons... and so on. Thanks for sharing honestly, because I think more writers do it our way than stick to a strict schedule. Hey, we call it 'freelance' for a reason! Blessings ~

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  4. Love your blog title! Visiting on a thursday something blog hop! Would love a visit and follow back. I'll be back!
    laura@imnotatrophywife.com

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  5. Quality not quantity - this keeps away the "cardboard" prose. Unfortunately, I'm like the bunny in that race with the tortoise. Words flow out of me in a staccato fashion - I think this shows and not for the good. When I'm inspired, I'm fast but the rapid pace burns out my energy reserve leaving me bereft of ideas for days, weeks at a time. This is not great for being consistent on my blog. So, I totally appreciate your foil to my approach - I wish I could be slow. I think the writing may be better.

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  6. I'm a fast writer, slow editor.

    I hate re-reading my own work, but I know I have to do it! I just really don't want to.

    The thing is, I need to edit it or else I'll be too insecure and OCD to send it to anyone. So I have that little issue there...

    IT gets easier with time.

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  7. One of my goals is to write a novel and the outline is done, but it stopped there. I find that forcing it doesn't work and writing is done when inspiration/motivation hits. Thanks for being honest about your process!

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  8. I'm so painfully slow, disjointed and easily distracted. I know that I need to at least try to come up with a schedule, but with three children to care for, I simply write when I have a spare moment. I'm starting to freak out about the MFA...it was nice to log on today and find this waiting. A subtle message not to get myself all flipped out. By the way, loved Bird by Bird!

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  9. Oh my goodness Ada I'm slow at everything! I have good intentions though ; ) For example, I get to be pregnant for 40 weeks, it took me about 20 of those weeks to decide on ONE paint color. So, slow is an understatement.

    I think it's more important for your content to be good than to be able to write quickly. A novel in a month sounds impressive but I can't imagine that would be incredibly creative writing (but, what the heck do I know)

    I DO KNOW, that you're fabulous and whenever you finish, the product is going to be incredible.

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  10. I am slow to start but fast to write. That probably doesn't even make sense, does it? I think and I ponder and I compose sentences in my head and I try to decide wht the very first word is going to be and all the while I'm doing some other non-related thing around the house for days and days and days until I finally sit down and ignore my poor neglected children and finally....brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (that's the sound of me typing) it all falls out of my head. It's frustrating not being able to MAKE it happen when I need it too. Stupid creativity! ;)

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  11. I'm a super fast writer, but I have to be in the mood. I have yet to publish anything, though... so perhaps its just rapid crap I'm typing out? I guess I'll never know unless I try though.

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  12. For me it is not that I am slow- but that I do not have a steady schedule with my writing. I am making an effort to be more specific about that.

    First priority, making my office space more conducive to writing. Right now I take my laptop to wherever is most comfortable... but that often leads to distraction.

    Second, creating a schedule. Right now I write whenever inspiration strikes... but that can be at 2 am. Not good for my sleeping habits.....

    Good luck in your process!

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  13. Nothing wrong with being slow!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog - following you back now!

    As an aspiring writer, I'm sure I'll enjoy reading your blog.

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  14. ah! you know that trifecta of work: fast, cheap, and well-done, and you only get to pick two? i actually think i write quickly and well-- but no one wants to pay me for it ;-)

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  15. For me, speed is not the issue to be battled. It's self-confidence that I lack. Each time I post a creative writing-ish piece on my blog I have cover my eyes and hit publish.

    You say you're a slow writer, but it seems to work for you! I enjoy everything I've read here. Mary @ http://my3littlebirds.blogspot.com/ (I don't think I'm logged in)

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  16. I am a new follower on GFC, Facebook and Twitter. Hope you can stop by my blog and check it out and follow back.
    http://www.atthemapletable.com

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  17. It's daring to even commit to writing a novel. I have six chapters getting dusty on my hard drive. Every time I go to write more, I reread it and get to editing until I am out of time and have made no progress. One sentence is something!!

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  18. I'm slow sometimes and then lightning fast sometimes. If I really get into what I'm writing, I can produce so quickly my head spins...but before I finish I usually stall out. I wish I could produce more consistently, but alas...

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  19. I'm not a writer but I do the same thing with whatever I need to do but then I always resent the goals I made for myself. Why should I do all of the laundry today? I'd rather do two loads and then spend the rest of the day crocheting.

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  20. I recently came to term with the fact that I am one of those people who perform better under pressure. I can plan something way in advance and I always perform better when time is running out.

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