Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Tortoise & the Hare

With NaNo going strong and aspiring writers making that last push before sending in their Golden Heart entries, I've heard a lot of people talking about and comparing word count productivity this month. If that motivates you, awesome! If not, never fear. Writing doesn't have to be a sprint.

I've got a lot to do this week, writing-wise. What's "a lot" you may ask? Well, here's the thing. I could tell you exactly what I have to do, but that wouldn't mean anything because you wouldn't have the context of what I normally achieve in a week. No two writers are going to have the same goals, because no two writers are going to write at exacty the same rate. So the vagueness of "a lot" means more than the specificity of "first draft 20,000 words, final edits 23,000 words, revise 25,000 words, tighten synopsis, compose query letter & hit send".

It is easy to fall prey to comparing ourselves with other writers. How long does it take them to write a book, how many times do they have to revise, how many people give them feedback on their work? As writers, we often compare notes on our processes, but I think it is invaluable to remember that your process isn't a competition. Whether you write slow or fast, draft once or seventy times, you have to do what works for you.

I've heard people say, unapologetically, that they write slow, but it was a real revelation to me when I heard someone say, with the same unapologetic air, that she wrote fast. No bragging. Just a flat "I can't do it any other way."

Me too!

I write fast. I have to. I need the momentum and I need the pressure of a looming deadline. And if I don't go fast, I get stuck rewriting every word I've written and I never get to The End. Others need time for deliberation and thought, but if I'm not writing from the gut, I won't finish. Is my way better than anyone else's? Hell no! But it's my way. I have to be me.

Are you a tortoise or a hare? Do you write like the wind, or does slow and steady win the race? Whatever your speed of choice, odds are you have a writing-rate comfort zone. Whether you're a thoughtful plodder or a neck-or-nothing speed-racer, I'm here today to say: Embrace it!

Find your pace. And if you want to challenge yourself, don't worry about competing with someone with a different pace. Try setting your own goals for 10% higher than your usual productivity. But whether you're a tortoise or a hare, the important thing is crossing the finish line, whenever you get there.


Christine said...

This is a very good post. It is about the individual journey. I write tight, fast stories. I need deadlines and goal lists. Other writers can do it differently. I respect the differences!!

Thank you.

M.V.Freeman said...

LOL, I can only write fast when I am doing a rough draft...and plowing through it.

It is the revision part that drives me nuts...I go so slow..I am picking out the bad stuff, writing the good.

I believe that's the question I have to ask--do you write slower when you revise?

(I agree with Christine, great post!)

Vivi Andrews said...

I'm glad you both liked the post. And, M.V., I am definitely slower on the revision side of things. It's like pulling teeth for me, going back through over and over and over again. I envy people who love revisions. :)