Guest Post: Not So Fast

Photo credit: CarbonNYC on Flickr
I think it’s safe to assume we’ve all heard about not comparing ourselves to other writers. 
And for the most part, I think I do an okay job. Oh, sometimes, the envy bug bites and I think, If only I could write something that amazing. But I shake it off with reminders that just like I can't tell that author’s story, the same is true for me—no one can tell mine.

What I want to talk about today though, is comparing not the story, but the speed. When I hear of writers hammering out a draft in a month, I want to pull out my hair. Or maybe pull out their hair. Yes, I know, that’s low of me. ‘Cuz the fact of the matter is that I am a slow writer. I am the tortoise in this race. Except…is it really a race?

Sometimes I feel like it is. I have tons of story ideas rattling around in my brain. They all want to be told, all want their time in the lime-light of my computer screen. But here’s the thing: It takes me a year to get one story out. And that’s completely written and only so-so revised.

I don’t want to be sixty and writing a story that I conceived when I was twenty-five. And despite the urgency of telling myself this, I can't make my brain compute the words any faster. Oh, I can get better at time management skills (I can, I can!) but any attempts to dash words onto the page for the sake of speed just results in a steamy pile of word blubber that needs extensive revision time. Trust me, folks, it’s not pretty. Nor readable.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that it's okay if I'm a tortoise and not a hare. This is my style, the way I write. I need time to find the right combination of words to show that snarky interaction between characters, yet with an undercurrent of attraction. To find the best words to describe the belly-flipping fear of being thousands of feet in the air with the hard, hungry ground waiting below (pretty sure when I get done writing my aerial acrobatic novel, I'm going to be terrified of heights).

All this isn’t to say that I don’t want to become better at writing more quickly. I do. My goal is to eventually work that year down to six months with practice and determination. Because even if the tortoise isn’t quick, it never stops moving forward. It gets there, friends, and that's what is important. 

Leandra Wallace is an IN girl w/a love for vanilla in her pop, old buildings, ampersands, and sparkly things. She can be found blogging weekly at and on Twitter @leandrajwallace.

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@leandrajwallace talks coming to terms with her writing speed on @Ava_Jae's blog. What do you think? (Click to tweet
Just how important is writing quickly? @leandrajwallace discusses coming to terms w/ her process on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)  

14 comments: said...

Love this post.

I too have fought envy when I listen to people pumping out stories at a record pace. I say good for them. I haven't read them. I don't know the quality of their work. And, at the end of the day, they don't have my life. They don't have my health challenges. They may not have my priorities when it comes to time with my family. It's all good.

Like you, I am always looking for ways to improve. I believe that we each have an optimum writing "system" that we need to find and use whenever possible. My optimum writing time is around 10AM.

Unfortunately, I'm at work at 10AM.

So, I have to write at a far less optimum time of 7PM. I try to write 1500 words a day, when I have the time to write that day. It's a doable number for me. I'd like to be faster, maybe one day I will, but I'm content doing what I can, when I can.

I hope you find contentment where you are and where you hope to be.

David Fuller said...

Yes, absolutely. I suspect too as I get more proficient at writing novels, each won't take as long as this one (eg. outlining, becoming better at revising) but I think even a fast writer needs the "not writing" time between drafts to really figure out what the MS is lacking or could use more of.

BethEllyn said...

I'm right there snailing it with you--it takes me months to get out a coherent start to a story. As long as we have the courage to tell our story I think we're good! great post!

Leandra said...

Thank you, Pete! To you as well. And doesn't it stink when those pesky day jobs interfere w/what we love doing? :) Tho I am grateful it keeps a roof over my head, lol! And as far as family time, that is definitely, always top priority.

Leandra said...

Snailing it! Ha, love that. :) And thanks!

Stephanie Faris said...

I can't speak for all fast writers, but for many of us, we spend FAR more time in revisions than we'd like to admit! We may write fast, but that's just the first draft. There's also an element of how many hours a day we're putting in. Someone with a full-time job and a family may not be able to devote hours every day to writing, so each chapter takes time. But since we each have our own process, we just have to do what works for us.

Loni Townsend said...

Great post! I think I lean more toward slow than fast. If I'm inspired, 5K in a day is nothing. But that means ignoring everything else in life, like children, husband, work, and eating. And I hate ignoring eating. :) Usually, I'm pretty proud of myself if I get 200. I think slow writing got a bad rap sometime earlier along the path. I say bah to all the nay-sayers!

Leandra said...

I hope for that too. Practice makes perfect! :)

KimberlyAfe said...

Awesome guest post, Leandra - I'm slower too. :) Wouldn't it be great to whip out a book in a month or two - all I need is a clone or two and I'm all over that! hee hee.

RoweMatthew said...

This is so me. I'm very jealous of all other writers all of the time because of my own laziness, busy life and bad time management. I want to write faster! I just can't seem to. I desperately don't want to only publish stories when I am old and I don't want to die before I get these stories out, but I really don't know how I can do more writing in my situation

Leandra said...

Time management is such a hard thing to get down. I have to struggle w/it every single day! So you're not alone! And when you're busy it makes you tired, and if you're like me, nothing sucks my creativity right out the door like being tired. But we can do it, Rowe! It's just a little bit, here and there, until we get it done. =)

Leandra said...

Writing clones? *Ears perk up* Yes, please! ;)

EB_Black said...

I know what you mean. I self-publish and I've been told that you should release a story every 4 months. I was going to try for 2 books a year, but even that sounds hard. I've also met other self-published authors who released 12 books in a year.

I can finish first drafts quickly sometimes, but lately, my writing has gotten a lot slower and I've been working on the same two books for the past year and a half and it's driving me insane.

Yea, I finished the first draft quickly, but this editing is KILLING ME. Yet I'm having so much fun doing it, so I wish I didn't worry about finishing faster.

Leandra said...

Whoa? Every 4 months? That's crazy! I mean, if someone can do it, more power to 'em, but it sure wouldn't be me. =) I could only do that if I had a big backlist of stories already written, yanno? Best of luck w/your two books. It sounds like you're polishing them to a lovely shine, and that's important!

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