Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writer Machine

One of the most common questions posted on writer's message board is "How long does it take for you to write a novel?" I've noticed alot of writers have developed super human speeds and can churn out lengthy tomes in days, weeks, a few short months and in the case of a few supermen in less than 24 hours. I seem to be of a dying breed that takes over a year to finish a single project (I can do a short story in about 3 months or less). In the past authors would take decades to finish a single book and would sometimes have long breaks in between projects. It seems that modern writers think that in order to be successful an author must be able to write a decent sized novel (usually above 100k) and edit it in three months or less. If an author dares to take longer they usually try to explain it by saying "I have kids...a job..." as if finishing a novel in six months instead of three is not a huge achievement.

We live in a world where people can download music instantly and can order anything they want online. People want things now. They do not want to wait for anything. That includes novels. There seems to be this growing conception among writers that if you cannot finish half a dozen books in a single year you will not have a successful career. You will be labelled slow. People will lose interest in your work and forget about you.

It has taken must just over a year to write nearly 50k of my current project. I am predicting that it will be over 100k in rough draft form and probably between 70 and 80k in the final version. I am incredibly pleased with the time I have taken to write this thing. I have doubled my writing speed from last year. I have pretty much written a perfect sized novel in a year. This from a girl who used to take five years to write a novel. You can see why I am happy with myself.

And yet I am constantly made to feel as if my speed is pathetic. Do I need to be some sort of writing machine to be able to survive in this industry? Do I need to be able to churn out at least two books a year to keep my career alive? Is there something wrong with wanting to enjoy the act of writing and not force myself to hurdle down the road of publishing like an out of control car?

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