I have always written slowly, first in a notebook, poring over my scenes until I am sure that they are well polished and later on the computer. The whole process of piecing together a story always drove me a little nuts (can you drive yourself nuts?) My inner perfectionist was constantly holding back the more productive parts of my brain. So when I happened upon this article in the New York Times, I began to wonder which process is better: fast or slow?
In this age of instant entertainment, is the slow writing process still relevant?
If Robert Heinlein Says So…
1.) You must write.
2.) You must finish what you write.
3.) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4.) You must put the work on the market.
5.) You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
This is the advice that Sci-fi guru Robert Heinlein once wrote. It’s not new advice. In fact, it’s been kicking around the e-verse for a good long while. In some ways, I can see how this advice is still relevant for the digital age. Sites like Wattpad and other online reading sites certainly promote a faster writing process, but do they warrant the quality that goes along with the quantity?
Binge Readers Anonymous
Recently, I’ve been obsessed with a new Jonathan Strauss series, Lockwood & Co. Luckily, Strauss has been cranking out the latest instalments of the series out pretty quickly, about several months apart. I should also point out that Lockwood & Co. is a fantastic series. Strauss isn’t the only author doing this either–Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation series is another prime example.
While I might have been tempted to pooh pooh the whole fast-writing phenomenon, I kind of love it. Who doesn’t want to find out what happens in their favourite book series ASAP? I know I do. And there’s nothing more infuriating than a writer who puts out an awesome first book in a series and then just never finishes the series… (*ahem* Jasper Fforde, I’m looking at you, friend.)
Since it is so easy to access entertainment online, it makes me wonder if this new trend has to do with the fact that our consumption of TV and movies is on average more of a binge-watching experience. I could probably reminisce about the days of yore when people actually had to wait for a certain night to watch their favourite show, but I’m not that old and some people probably still do that.
So, here’s the thing: I can totally see how this fast-moving, binge-reading trend could continue. I could get on that bandwagon.
I write really really slowly, so that bandwagon might just run me over.
Motherhood of the Travelling Diaper, Or No Time to Write (Among Other Things)
It was while jiggling my son on my knee whilst also attempting to use the bathroom (all the while a creepy clown melody from some evil toy echoing across the hallway) that I realized I was a mother. I mean, it’s not like I was like “oh look, I have a baby,” but let’s just say that it was one of those defining moments.
Several weeks passed before I showered, slept or wrote.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for slow progress. The day that my son first lifted his head (after several weeks of physio) I began to think that maybe there was something to this baby steps thing. For a newbie parent, it’s kind of comforting to think about things as taking some time to develop. Watching my son wake up to the world around him has made me understand something about my own writing:
Slowing down and living in the moment means that we appreciate it more. Maybe we don’t know how the story will go just yet, but in that moment, the clarity that comes with slowing down is worth everything.
Oh, and Jasper Fforde, if you’re out there, I’ll forgive you for taking an eternity to finish writing Shades of Grey Two.
What do you think? Are you a fan of book series that are quickly produced? Or is good reading still worth the wait?