Sunday, April 10, 2016

Writing at Your Own Pace

This week I found a really great group of people on Kindleboards who have been contributing observations and experiences on a thread called “Slow WritersProgress Thread”. This thread (topic) is only one of hundreds on Kindleboards. Another is called the “1,000 Word a Day Club", where authors boast about their word count, which is often more than 1000 words.

If you’ve had a lousy week, month, or year, that thread can be a real downer. It can feel, if you let it, like the whole world is writing faster and better than you. That’s why I liked the Slow Writers thread because its contributors are just as committed to writing, but full-time day jobs and other things create struggles that they candidly share. I see people stating that they’ve written 200 today, or nothing at all this week, while others are saying that they write almost nothing weekdays, but devote Sundays to writing and can churn out 3,000 words over a weekend.

I also read a blog by thriller writer John Ellsworth who reports that he writes 2,000 words a day after editing the previous day’s work. He also researches while he writes so that by the time he’s finished his book, it’s in final form. He goes onto say that once he’s sent the book to his editor it takes 5 days to get it back and 3 hours for Ellsworth to make his revisions.

This type of productivity is mindboggling to me. At this time in my life, I can’t imagine writing that fast, but it’s a goal to shoot for, if I choose. And that’s my point. Every writer has to decide what they want from their writing life. Lots of books, put out quickly, or a slower pace where even one book a year is an impossible goal. The key is to find your own pace that produces quality work in whatever timeline you define as reasonable, or at least doable.

My publishers have released one of my books every year since 2011, which is fine. But I’ve found that my ambition changes along with my goals, output, and strategy. This year I may slow things down. Next year I may speed things up.

Whatever you read or hear from others has nothing to do with your own schedule, needs, and productivity. Find whatever pace works for you, and if it’s no longer satisfactory than do what you can to change it.


Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Good post, Debra. I'm always amazed at people who can write 2,000 words a day. Sometimes the best I can manage is 250 words in a day. But then I think compare it to training for a marathon (something I have done). I may be a slow runner (plodder would be a more apt description) and I'm definitely in it "to complete" vs. "to compete" but when I cross that finish line, I'm still faster than all the people who didn't even make to the start line.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your comment, Judy. Yes, I have up and down days or weeks. The important thing is that we keep moving forward!