By Wendy Lawton
Anyone who is trying to build a career as a writer knows that making a living in the early years is an almost impossible challenge. But when a writer has sold a couple of books and had a little success, it’s natural to get out the calculator and try to figure out how fast a book could be written if all things were perfect. After all, there’s NaNoWriMo. If a writer could log in 50,000 words in one month, why couldn’t he do that every month? With taking a month off for the holidays and another month in case emergencies cropped up. . . why, that’s five books a year! Even with his modest advances, he could live on that, right? He could quit his day job!
Not so fast.
Here’s what I heard from an editor about a writer a few years ago: “He needs to stop trying to write so fast. The deadlines that he proposes for each project don’t make sense. Are you telling me that he can write three complete manuscripts by December? Highly unlikely…”
Hmm. Sounds like this editor is anticipating the kind of problems that come with writing too fast. Let’s consider just a few.
When writing too fast:
- The author runs the risk of turning in a sloppy manuscript.
- There is no time to let the book or the story marinate. There’s more to writing a world-class book than mechanically getting the words on paper. The story or book needs to live in the author’s mind for a time.
- It doesn’t take long for the author to burn out.
- If the author doesn’t have time to experience things, to be with people or to travel, pretty soon the well runs dry. It’s one of the upsides to having a day job–you’re collecting material all day long.
Everything in this world seems to move too fast. If you want a career that will last–one that will grow–you may need to slow down. In the early years your income may need to come from another source, but successful authors will tell you that the investment is worth it.
We all know that first drafts come fast and furious– that’s good for creativity. But rewrites and the final draft? Time to slow down and reach high to craft a masterpiece.
So let me ask: How fast is too fast? Can you be too slow with writing subsequent books? Is there a perfect balance? I’d love to hear you weigh in.