Publishing Fear FreeWriting Fear Free

On Being Slow

My novel writing pace
My novel writing pace

No matter how long a writing project takes to complete, I always feel as if the process was too slow. Everything seems to take me longer than it takes other writers. This year, I followed Dean Wesley Smith’s series about ghostwriting a novel in 10 days. After that, I felt even slower. (I’ve also been keeping up with Smith’s Writing in Public series. Interesting stuff.)

Smith wrote a full novel in 10 days. He says he doesn’t rewrite. The man doesn’t mess around. According to his bio, Smith has published more than 100 novels in 30 years.

So when I started looking at my own work in comparison to his, I felt like a pretty huge failure. I became the slowest sloth of a writer ever to climb down the tree and face a laptop. I cannot write a full novel in 10 days, and rewriting is pretty much the only thing my work has going for it.

Smith’s 100 novels is certainly impressive, but the number that impressed me was 30. He has been writing for 30 years. Thirty years! I’m comparing myself to a writer with 30 years of experience.

As a writer with 3 years or so under my belt, it’s foolish for me to compare myself to a writer with that level of experience. I shouldn’t be able to write with Smith’s facility at this stage in my career. I’m still learning. I don’t have it all figured out. I make mistakes. I have to rewrite. Smith even says that

Also, the early days of trying to learn how to tell stories is difficult and very frustrating…. Everything about learning how to write stories in the early professional days is hard. No argument. – Read more here.

He’s right. So I’m cutting myself some slack, and I hope my readers will do the same. I cannot sit at a computer for 10 days and leave it with a finished novel in hand. Not yet anyway. I have to have time to think, to figure out what I did right and wrong, to make the story better and more fun. I have to rewrite and rewrite.

Oh, and then rewrite some more.

That doesn’t make me a bad writer or mean that I’m out of ideas. It means that I’m still learning. So I’m done comparing myself to writers who have ten times the experience. I’m going to enjoy learning and publishing each book as I finish.

But I’m definitely going to look forward to each new stage in my writing journey. I’ll enjoy learning new techniques and gaining the ability to see problems before they arise. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the learning process as much as I can.

One thought on “On Being Slow

  1. I have to admit that I’m becoming addicted to the finish – there’s something about being DONE at least with that first crap draft that’s satisfying (because I’m honestly the type that will stare at a blank page and peck out 3 words in an hour if left to my own devices). So my goal is to be fast on roughs but slow on edits this year.

    And I’m not setting ridiculous goals like “I will publish 4 books this year.” Honestly, I think these things in my head like they’re NORMAL GOALS. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

    Lastly, yes,! The guy has only 4 less years writing than I have on THE EARTH. I think both you and I are doing extremely well. Our awesome cannot be contained 😉

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