Prolific? I don't think so.

Dear Miss Snark,

I've been enjoying your blog for a little over a month now...just wanted to ask a quick (and probably silly, nitwittish like question): how important is it to you that your clients are prolific writers? And how many books a year do they need to write in order for you to consider them prolific?

The longer I write, the faster I tend to write as I learn more and more about how to tighten (and how to begin each novel with a tighter base). What do you hope for in your clients?

Thank you (kitty Bonzai says 'hi' to KY)!

KY doesn't speak to cats anymore since that unfortunate incident at the Bronx Zoo but if he did I'm sure he'd say "hi" in return.

Now to your question: are you insane?

The last thing I want is to have authors cranking things out like this was a widget factory. At most I'd like one novel a year. You start producing more than that, you'll saturate the market AND most likely your writing will suffer.

I want authors who can produce good books consistently. Fast doesn't even enter into it unless the publisher is hot to make "expect a book every February" part of the marketing plan.

Generally authors who are writing too fast are missing out on the benefits of distance and objectivity. For that, you have to let something sit for awhile, then go back after you've cleansed your palate, not to mention replenished your word pallette, with something else.

Slow down. Speed kills.


Anonymous said...

Yup. When an author churns out more than one book a year (about four come to mind right away), the writing--and ultimately the reader--suffers.

Anonymous said...

I can't force myself to write slowly. I can produce a rough draft in about three months without straining, and the idea of actively discouraging myself from writing in order to slow down my pace is counterintuitive.

Plenty of writers wrote extremely quickly but still produced fantastic books. Isaac Asimov comes to mind immediately, as he wrote nearly 500 books and was a genius, but there are others as well who produce three or four books a year that are great; for example, Holly Lisle.

I don't think most midlist writers are able to live on just one book a year. Everyone writes at a different pace, and if a writer can handle multiple books a year without sweating -- and without hurting the quality of those books -- I can't understand what the problem would be.

Anonymous said...

I know writers who take 18 months to write a book. I know one who wrote FOUR in November. I know one who spent seven years on her first one. I think The Historian was a ten-year project.

I agree with Miss Snark; write another before revising the first. A good book takes as long as it takes. Just don't reach THE END and send it out because you think it makes you look prolific. You want to appear talented, not prolific. Both would be nice, but it's rare.

Anonymous said...

Regarding prolific writers, do check out novelist James Reasoner's year end post:


In 2005 he wrote 5,500 manuscript pages containing about 1.1 million words.

That's a lot of darn typin'.

~Anoni Moose

Anonymous said...

What about the romance market? We're told "you've got to put out four books a year or you're history before you ever get started!

Anonymous said...

Yup, writing fast is a sure way to poverty and obscurity. Just ask Nora Roberts.

Anonymous said...

A big problem with many writers who write faster than lightning is they don't bother to go back and REWRITE, no matter how much their agents instruct them to do so.

Some of those writers might say to that, "Hey, but that's editing, and I'm not the editor, I'm the writer!"

And to that I say no one is going to want to edit you if you can't learn to edit yourself.

Anonymous said...

Just make every single sentence good.
(Easy to say.) If you don't, none of it will make any difference anyway.

Anonymous said...

Write em as they come. Some come quickly, some have to be pulled kicking and screaming from the brain like toddler in full melt down mode.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that romance writers are expected to produce 4 books a year does nothing to dispel the prejudices that exist about that genre amongst writers in other genres.

Anonymous said...

Hi, all -- I asked the original question...I appreciate all the comments. It reinforced what I was already thinking...I will write as the need dictates, and if that's unusually fast, so be it. Of course, when I say 'write', I mean many drafts and revisions (but I'm also on the fast side with those). Now I know not to necessarily mention to the agent interested in my latest ms that I write as quickly -- at least until she's already sold on my voice :)

Anonymous said...

I think Miss Snark’s advice is excellent for most mere mortals. Of course there are exceptions. My favorite thriller writer, Donald E. Westlake, has been speed-demoning along for around 45 years. Apparently one of the reasons he started using noms-de-plume (like my favorite of his incarnations, “Richard Stark”) was because his publisher didn’t want to flood the market with Westlake.

The novel I am currently trying to flog took me three-and-a-half years to write, and I needed every minute. For me, with whatever talent I may have and for the kind of novel I try to write, writing is sort of like building and furnishing a house you want to live in, a house that other people would want to visit. You can maybe toss up a house in a week, but you can’t get it furnished and lived-in and welcoming in less than a year.

Anonymous said...

I feel better. I've been fretting that I'm not prolific enough. What's with all these people who can write a book in six weeks? Or even six months?

Four years for the first book, going on five years for the second. But this second book has received a lot of interest from agents. And I know I'm getting better. (Can't stand to look at the first novel, which totally sucks stale dog biscuits.) I think lack of confidence is part of what slows me down, and that's something else I'm working to improve.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who would be telling romance writers they need to put out four a year. That's ridiculous advice. Nora can do it, and that's great for her, but it is not expected of anyone else.

Waylander, you'll need to find another reason to be prejudice against the most popular, bestselling genre of mass market fiction. That one doesn't fly.

Anonymous said...

Here's a reason to disfavor the romance genre:


snarky little vegemite said...

If you're looking at your standard Harlequin category romance author, a lot of them do put out four books a year. The advance for these authors isn't huge (generally in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, I believe) and the books are short -- only about 55,000 words. You do the maths. And, anon., these aren't 'plot-in-the-box' works, whatever that is. Readers have an expectation when it comes to these books, but that doesn't mean they're easy to write. In fact, with so many being published, it's difficult to come up with a new, fresh spin. I've written for both Harlequin (not category, but single title) and publishers like Random House and I'll tell you something -- the romance side of things is a far, far nicer place to be. These authors are smart cookies and hanging around at their conferences etc. is dreamy compared to the mainstream scene where you'll be stabbed in the back in a second (like you're doing, I guess).

Anonymous said...

So glad to read this. I write for an E-publisher. I was feeling all slow. Other authors put out way more than I do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying that, vegemite. I don't care for legal drama or techno-thrillers, but I don't run around calling them utter tripe, either. We're all writers--can we grow up and stop bashing each other's genres? Please?

Anonymous said...

I managed to write the first draft of my first book in just under 6 months. The book is roughly 100K words. However, it took me over a year to revise it to where I want it. That doesn't mean it's perfect, but it does mean it's fit for human consumption. I also started my second book while I edited and rested the first. I'm finding this one is taking longer, and it's shorter than the first and a sequel--go figure.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, 'It will be finished when it's finished.'

Anonymous said...

Sorry, snarky vegemite. Didn't mean to step on toes. I thought the anon before me gave a challenge to come up with a better reason to not like the romance genre.

And Plot-in-a-box comes from reading the writers guidelines at eharlequin.com. Each imprint wants a specific story. Here's a plot, fill in the blanks.

I have respect for any writer who gets paid. They're doing better than I am! Maybe I'll try romance...

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark...this is just wonderful to hear. It took me about three years to write my book, from idea to submission-ready draft. I edit and re-edit and re-edit as I go, and I don't think there's any way I could have got it right any faster. It's now with a publisher and I've been cringing away from the thought that they might expect a book a year.

It's SO good to hear that it might not be a deal-breaking disaster if I wanted, say, two years to write the next one. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia writes:

Anonymous who was dissing "plot-in-a-box" Harlequins? You may have looked at the guidelines, but you sure haven't tried to write one. The thing that kicked my ass the worst was trying to "whip out" an Intrigue. Try putting romance and suspense in that short a word span, AND have it read worth a damn, and you'll get an appreciation for Shakespeare's sonnets. Besides, Tess Gerritsen AND Tami Hoag both got their start at Harlequin ...

And yes, they do like it if you can turn out good books quickly in the romance genre, ST or category.

I write rough drafts quickly ... and I need to or I lose the momentum. Quickest thing I ever wrote was an 80K word women's fiction novel in 23 days ... you know what? It got a personal call for revisions from the editor herself ... After those revisions (which took two months due to family issues) and it's now on a desk awaiting a boss-editor's decision ... after having been championed by not one, but TWO editors at that publishing house.

I wrote four novels last year, plus did that revision. Three of those novels have been requested (fulls all!) by editors. This year I'm already two-thirds done with another novel (already requested by an editor) and I'm knee-deep in revisions for one of last year's novels.

And a hotshot agent read the partial of one of those novels and immediately asked me for the full of it and a partial of another ...

One problem with writing commercial fiction in a slow manner is that you lose your market. What's hot this year might not be hot next year ... or the market might be oversaturated (think vamps and shapeshifters and chick-lit.) Yes, I know, write what you love, not what the market demands, but if you're going to make a living at writing one day, you need to be good, fast and consistent in order to keep your name on bookbuyers' minds. With hard covers, that means one book pubbed a year ... that means while a book is in production (about a year), you need to (a) write another book (b) edit that book to the satisfaction of yourself and your editor and (c) take off time for publicity -- not to mention family and a life away from the keyboard.

So writing slower than a book a year in hard cover can be a detriment. The market is even more unforgiving in paperback.

The bottom line: write as fast as you need to but not so fast the quality suffers. Good writing trumps all.

Anonymous said...

I joined RWA and my local chapter mainly because it was the best writing group around (with the greatest group of women). I didn't write romance at the time and I still don't.

However, being part of such a great group, I thought I'd try my hand at writing romances. I'd read and loved them for years and thought they'd be easy to write.


I've tried several times to write romance, and I can't do it. I just can't come up with a romance plot that works. I start with a plot and it either fizzles out, or it ends up becoming a mystery or a fantasy.

Romance is one of the hardest genres to write. Even though most people think it would be really easy, it's not. And I totally admire anyone who can do it and do it well.

Anonymous said...

Write it and write it well. That's the key. But unfortunately there are more than a few authors who are expected to churn out two books a year--and they can't. Oh sure, the books rank right there in the front of B&N, but that's because they have a following. Other than that, the writing sometimes goes downhill, and the plot predictable.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

Well, taking a different opinion with Miss Snark this time. I wrote three books last year, all of them got good reviews, one of them received an excellent review in Publishers Weekly, and ALL of them went through, at the very least, three drafts before they ever reached my editor's desk. I write full-time, and I'm a fast writer.

And about genre: after 9/11 I went into a deep depression, like much of the country. I began to feel guilty about writing work that was 'fun' to write. After about six weeks, I picked up one of Janet Evanovich's books that I'd been reading when the towers were hit, and that I'd set aside. I finished the book and realized that for the first time in six weeks I was laughing. Her book was therapy for me--entertainment? Yes, but also therapy. It freed me up to at least be able to smile again.

Re: the romance genre: I know a number of romance writers who are excellent at their craft and it's damned hard to write to a set of rules and make the book original.

I write cross-genre--mystery/paranomal/chicklit/a little romance. Both my editor and agent think every book I write is getting stronger. Being a prolific writer does not indicate that you're a hack, nor does it indicate that you're not revising and editing your work.

Some people write fast, some write slow. It all depends on the individual. I happen to be a workaholic, but I love what I do and go nuts when I'm not writing.

So those of us who do write fast do not necessarily churn out work.

Linda said...

I know pro writers who write fast and I know pro writers who write more slowly. I know that some books seem to come easier for them than other books. I think it's the same for those of us who aren't yet published. We all need to do what it takes to write the best quality books we can, not worry about meeting some arbitrary standard of prolificness. :)


tess gerritsen said...

Having written both romance (for Harlequin Intrigue) as well as mainstream suspense novels, I can assure you that romance is definitely NOT easy to write. Yes, the books are a little shorter than mainstream (75,000 vs. 100,000) which is about the only thing that makes them easier to write, but there's a whole different set of expectations that you must fulfill. Romances are not plots-in-a-box If one's going to call them that, then you could just as well use it for mystery novels. (Someone commits murder. Sleuth investigates. Sleuth finds his life endangered. Sleuth solves crime.)

I think it is definitely an advantage in this market to be able to write quickly. Right now, I'm having a hard time just turning in a book a year. The way the market sucks up fiction from popular authors, it sees to be a definite advantage to be able to write two books, or even more, a year. I wish I could manage it.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts! I agree that it can be to one's advantage to be able to write well and write quickly -- quality and quantity...if that's not possible, then each to his own. I've only been writing for 18 months, and each book has gotten stronger -- but, I've written four now in six months, and the last two are getting some attention from editors and agents...so i do think it's possible to write prolifically and well :)

Amie Stuart said...

>>Besides, Tess Gerritsen AND Tami Hoag both got their start at Harlequin

And Kay Hooper, Sandra Brown, Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen......the list is long and rather star studded.

Like someone said, everyone writes at a different pace. And for different reasons and around different time constraints. It's all in what works for you.

magz said...

Whoa! I feel the lighthanded touch of a true inkling about Writing, and Authors (both published and aspiring)

Y'all wanna make MONEY doing this, dontcha! That little media fueled fantasy of autonomy-thru=authorship thats supposed to be easy (if yer talented, lucky, or danged stubborn).

Get real.
Writing, is a labor of love. A hobby. A celebration of sharing the joys of language, connections, and the simple fact that you cant NOT write if you feel inside that you have stories to share.

Keep yer day job. Write around that day job; just cause ya CAN, and sometimes must: not cause ya feed into an idyllic idea of Oprah appearences and fame and fortune. Although we probably all would appriciate Recognition,

my humble opinion is that that particular mindset is probably responsible for 98% of Miss Snark's slushpile.

If yer doing it for the money n fame, ya'd best be a true exlemplarary standout to catch MY attention and dollars.

I READ...nearly every format or genre existing, always have.. always will. I've glommed onto unknowns that I would have paid everything I owned at the time to read, and paid a nickel at a yardsale for a 'famous author' book that I felt I'd been ripped off for.

Ultimately, I am the person you are hoping to sell your book to. My only real criteria for defining the difference between good n bad reading is
Make it REAL! Show me, the reader, guts n heart n honest and chances are that whatever-da-hell genre yer usin, I'll like it.

If you're attempting to sell for selling's sake; if you live and breathe for the concept of 'bestseller', I may get suckered, ONCE.. into paying full price but rest assured in the knowledge I'll NEVER buy you by your hype again. At least not until I find your every written/published word for free.

I dont CARE how long it took you to write it! I like reading; and it doesnt matter to me whether you spent 20 years perfecting your opus, or 20 hours churning it out in a fit of inspiration. As Miss Snark says very succinctly; Good writing trumps all. Doit. Doit fer Love, not Money.

ann said...

It almost sounds like giving birth. Some moms have good, fast labor and some are in labor for 36 hours.

Anonymous said...

amen, Ann...I'm a fast writer and I had my kids fast too -- five hours for the first; less than two for the second...and no drugs (though I must have been insane with second).

Anonymous said...

I never disagree with Snark, but I do this time.

I usually write an 80,000 word manuscript, first draft, in less than two months. I spend about two weeks going through the thing myself, then I send it to my two critique partners.

They typically take 2-3 weeks to go through the whol thing. I make the adjustments and send it to my agent. Then, when she gets back, I spend another week or so on her suggested revisions.

Then its ready for submissions. You're talking three, maybe four months. I have no idea what I'd even do if I was supposed to take a year. Even six months.

I understand the "let it sit" mentality...but that means I go work on something else while I 'let it sit.'...

I think there are very few writers that could really get in the door on one book a year. . . especially when you learn so much with every book. I think its okay to let it come out as it does, make sure to have atleast two sets of eyes look at it (impartial eyes of a critique partner, not your best friend) take it all into consideration and make the changes, and then send it into the world, via queries or whatever.

snarky little vegemite said...

Well, I've got to come out then and say I write for money. It's my job. And it's the best job in the world. I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of in saying it, either.

As for anon.. Like all the other people who keep right on telling me it's so easy to write romance, I can only encourage you to go ahead and start your plot-in-a-boxer. And then get rejected, and rejected, and rejected again. It's so satisfying when that happens!

Mark said...

"I usually write an 80,000 word manuscript, first draft, in less than two months"

Are you published? And if so by whom. This will tell us what we need to know about your technique.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mag.

Writing for money is, whatever else it is, a mug's game. For 90%, or more, the money sucks. The hours suck. What it is is gut-wrenching labor, frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety spiced with occasional fleeting moments of quiet satisfaction, and if it isn't you aren't doing it right.

Actually, I have the best job in the world. Waste water treatment. I tend the sludge compactor at our plant. Fabulous bread. All the overtime you can stand. And I can't describe the satisfaction I feel as the pellets roll off the conveyor into the waiting trucks, bound for the farm. I feel...enriched. The smell isn't that wonderful, but you get used to it...

Anonymous said...

No. No. NO! Magz--write for money. Don't you want money? I want money. If I were good at anything else I would do it to make the money. But I'm not really good at anything else. I didn't choose to be a writer. I have to be a writer.

I used to work in an office. I was terrible. I had to buy work pants. WORK PANTS. It was awful. I've been a teacher. You know what? Kids are sticky! And if they're older, they're pimply! I've been a farmer, a cook, a muralist, a face and body airbrush painter, a telefundraiser, a wedding singer, and here's the rub; I'm not good at anything else. So I write.

You know why I want money? So I never have to buy work pants again or have my cavities filled for free by a nervous dental student. I want to travel to exotic lands that require complex vaccinations, and maybe buy makeup that doesn't come from the beauty isle at CVS. Health insurance would be nice. I want to buy Miss Snark a bejeweled bucket of the finest zirconia filled to the brim with top quality gin. None of this is going to happen if I continue to do sub-par work at jobs where I'm miserable. So I read over my agent's notes and edit my manuscript.

Art is a job just like any other. It's might be a hobby for you, but for me it is my means to make ends meet. If you're a good writer, this isn't an unreasonable goal.

Hobby schmobby.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia wrote: you need to be good, fast and consistent


Good: this means a certain level of quality. I could crank out 50K a month, but I couldn't guarantee it to be good prose. However, I do crank out about 10K a month, and it's good enough to be published.

Fast: be a quantity supplier of product. I could write just five thousand words of publishable stuff a month, but my editors and my bank manager prefer that I do the 10K.

Consistent: reputation. An editor wants to know that if you're gonna be writing something, that they'll have a reasonable idea of what it's going to be. Editors don't like unpleasant surprises from their stable. If one writer who in the past has consistently done something suddenly swaps streams in the middle of a project, it shakes up the editor and editors don't like that. Throws their editorial plans right off.

Be reliable, in other words.

So, yeah: good, fast and consistent.

Anonymous said...

Throwin' my two cents right in this tiny boxing round match thingie.

Ayuh. uh huh. You betcha.

Ain't nothing like watching some good dukin' goin' on.

It be rather in-teer-esting.

Some o' y'all would argue until you was blue in the face and y'all still be chompin' at dat thar bit just a'rollin' your eyes on dat thar next post put up by the purty Miss Snark.

So, clammer down. I gots somethin' I has to say.

Every one o' you.

Yup. I'm a talkin' to you.

Each o' you is dif-ear-ant.

You over in dat dere blue honey patch corner, you just hen peck at the keyboard. One itty bitty word come out and you gots to back space it and start all over. You jes' keep typin' an' somehow or other a story be showin' up in your typerwriter.

And you!

You in dat fire engeeen red corner, you be typin' a million miles a minute.

So I says dat makes each o' y'all dif-ear-ant.

And dif-ear-ant is a mighty good thang to be.


Stacia said...

As for anon.. Like all the other people who keep right on telling me it's so easy to write romance, I can only encourage you to go ahead and start your plot-in-a-boxer. And then get rejected, and rejected, and rejected again. It's so satisfying when that happens!

Right on, snarky little vegemite! I love hearing things like, "Maybe I'll try romance-that's an easy way to get published!"
Like writing something you're not passionate about is the easy way to get published. Like trying to come up with a plot that isn't cliche is easy, or creating characters that not only make sense as people but make sense as people in love is easy.

Yes, it's easy. That's why there are so many unpublished romance writers out there.

Anonymous said...

James M. Cain said something to the effect that no one can write well for more than two hours a day. He was right. What he didn't say was that one doesn't have to write well to sell.

There's a difference between feature films, primetime TV and daytime soaps. They differ according to the time, effort and expense that go into each--and it shows. Equivalent categories and differences exist in print.

I'm sure that soap writers (and actors) talk about how hard it is to produce their product, but watch one sometime--they aren't going to get any respect outside the genre any time soon.

s.w. vaughn said...

I am so sick of genre-bashing and the write-for-love-versus-money debate.

Not that anyone here is bashing genres--anon kindly retracted the "reason to hate romance" comment--but come on. All writers who put effort, love, and passion into their work are "real" writers. Just because the industry needs genre labels to function doesn't make anyone's work less valuable than anyone else's.

Writers who call themselves "literary" and then look down their pretentious noses at genre writers, in a word, piss me off. There's nothing wrong with literary, and not all literary writers have this awful attitude. But those that do, in a word, piss me off. Okay, so you're writing stuff that will "have an impact on the world and instigate social change and go down in the annals of society..." That's great. Good for you.

What's wrong with changing one person's life, right now? That's what genre writers do. If we can make one person laugh, smile, get scared, fall in love, or forget their problems for a while, we are happy. If we can do this one reader at a time for thousands (or millions) of people, so much the better. Maybe genre books won't pass the test of time, but then again, neither will most people. So what's wrong with changing the lives that are being lived right now? We are immortal when we reach readers, even if it is only readers within our lifetimes.

And as for money: of course we write for money, and it is because we write for love. These are not mutually exclusive terms. We write for money because we love writing, and making money from writing is the only way we can pursue our love full time. Yes, we all have to start out with a day job--but to keep at it without the ultimate goal of making money is a waste of time and effort.

Writers write...because. And any reason to write is a good reason. Don't sneer at someone else because their reasons aren't the same as yours.


Bernita said...


Anonymous said...

I can't believe people think that there's something wrong with getting paid for work done. I've worked for years in the computer field, and I loved what I did. But I wouldn't dream of doing it for free if for no other reason than I need money to live on. But a bigger reason than that has to do with perception of worth. If I gave my expertise away I'd be saying it's worth nothing. Why should writing be any different?

I consider my books labors of love, but that doesn't mean I will give it away. I'd like to realize a return on my investment.

So yes, write because it's your bliss, but don't think you're pimping yourself by trying to get the most money you can for it.

That's my 2¢

Anonymous said...

"Do what you love...the money will follow."

Elena Greene said...

When I was writing traditional Regency romances my editor asked if I could write at LEAST two books a year. I explained to her that I'm not that fast a writer and with two small children, I could only write one book a year--at least only one I'd be willing to have published with my name on it.

Though she accepted what I said she warned me my career would proceed much more slowly than those of more prolific authors. I do think it's helped some romance authors. But it also doesn't make sense for slower writers like me to burn out and produce wallbangers in the attempt to keep up.

Elena Greene

Stacia said...

S.W., will you be my best friend? That was an AWESOME comment!

Anonymous said...

SLV and DQ- The fact that you would get satisfaction from my failure speaks volumes about your character. I never said that writing romance was easy. I think that having to write to a set of rules and having an ending that can't be changed would be unbelievable difficult for me. I've only written two complete novels in my life (lots of abandoned 50-pagers, though) and I've discovered that I am very much an "organic" writer. Some call it "Headlight writing". I have no idea how the novel will end, but when I reach it, I know that it's over. With romance, you know that at the end, the hero and heroine will live happily ever after. I would probably kill the hero somewhere around page 125, or discover that the heroine is actually a lesbian on page 30. However, the "Everlasting" line at Harlequin looks very interesting to me. So I'm going to attempt one, and I will report back my total failure for your satisfaction.

Stacia said...

Anonymous, I wasn't referring to anyone in particular when I commented. There are so many anonymous comments on this thread and I wasn't responding to any one in particular.

My comment related to people who look down on my work as "easy" or "anybody can write that garbage". If I take satisfaction from their discovery that it is in fact harder than they assume, I make no apologies for that.

The sooner all writers recognize that all writing is hard-every genre, and every kind-the better we'll all be, IMO.

Sorry if you thought I was hoping you, personally would fail at something. I don't know who you are or which comment was yours.

I wish you the best of luck at whatever you attempt. But I ask you to keep in mind, just because you personally weren't saying romance is easy, doesn't mean we don't hear that every day. It's easy to get defensive when you're regularly called a hack.

Anonymous said...

Whomever said romance was easy never heard my husband snore.

Bernita said...

Ask a widow.

Andrea said...

I am currently writing two novels concurrently. I choose to write based on what inspires me that day, so it could be three or four novels at a time. I don't like dictating to myself that I need to write 'x' number of pages a day. I like to write as inspired.



magz said...

Wow! A sparkly and passionate discussion here, my favorite kind!

I'm following Andrea's remark about multi-noveling since I'm doin it too. I believe jta is very very wise to writerly ways, and quinn is someone I'd be honored to buy the beer for while hangin out. (I sense a kindred spirit fer shure)

SW is just plain profound and savvy; great comment SW!

I hope I didnt come off as a Holier-Then-Thou commenter, I simply wanted to express my lil ole opinion that if fame or money are yer MAIN reasons to write, best write well. HAIL yeah I'd do it for money... but I'd do it for free if nobody's buying.

Reading The Snarkster here has really opened up my eyes to just how passionate we writey-types are, and how glad I am to share that passion for words read, and words wrote. I'm truely pleased to be here, Snarkling.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you don't want to buy me a beer. That's pretty much how the wedding singer gig went sour.

Harry Connolly said...

Quick note:

Don't convince yourself that you are a slow writer, or a writer that needs a lot of rewrites or certain conditions or a certain procedure. Sure, everyone works differently, but people can convince themselves that they have limitations they don't have to have.

It happened to me. I used to think I was a very slow writer. Then I rethought things and taught myself to be much more prolific. As a result, I'm doing better work (not just more).

Don't argue for your limitations. Keep an open mind about what you are capable of. You might surprise yourself.

Anonymous said...

Harry C said: Then I rethought things and taught myself to be much more prolific.


If you don't mind sharing.

Anonymous said...

SW: Until Harry C gets back, I can tell you two things that helped me.

First, use your time away from your desk to plan--generally--the next scene you're going to write: the characters, setting, time frame, etc., and what you want the scene to do in the narrative. This helps shorten the time you sit staring into space before getting anything done.

Second, especially if, like me, you tend toward perfectionism, it might help to try changing *your* setting--try writing in a different place, using a pencil and a spiral notebook. This gives you permission to be very loose and free--minimum correction, screw spelling, just scribble. If you have to change something, don't erase, just strike-through and go on. The sense that it's all provisional and temporary can relieve some of the paralysis and let you develop some momentum. You might get some narrative surprises, too. Then you can rough edit while keying it in to the WP, and of course edit from there.

Made my life a bit easier. Cheers.

Harry Connolly said...

Slow, I hope you scroll down and check out this comment, because here's what I did:

First, I was convinced that I couldn't do more than three pages in the two hours I wrote every morning. I was a struggler.

Then, over at the Absolute Write forum, James D. Macdonald said that he writes 2,500 words a day, and he does it in about 2 hours.

I was kind of boggled by that, until another author () told me pretty much the same thing. While I was walking around, wondering how I was going to match their standards, and whether I had to.

At some point, it occurred to me that I should try some basic math. It turned out that these writers were writing slightly less than 21 words a minute. Then I calculated my own pace: about six words a minute.

I thought, what if I kept track of my productivity and tried to write faster? The next time I wrote, I had my calculator handy. I wrote an 18-word sentence and realized that I wasn't going to write another thing for three more minutes.

I wasn't a struggler, I was a dawdler. I changed the way I approached the blank page--I kept my hands on the keyboard and my head in the story. I still haven't managed 20wpm for very long, but I'm much more prolific than I used to be.

Not only that, but my writing has improved. More focus=better work.

Harry Connolly said...

Doh! Guess I forgot to close that link. The text of the link was supposed to be "(Lawrence Watt-Evans)" and the link is his web page.

I shouldn't post when I'm tired.

Catja (green_knight) said...

I was *extremely* surprised to read that Miss Snark wants only a book a year - the rule-of-thumb in my genre seems to be one or two, two is better.

I've done the speedwriting thing - one draft in three months (which *didn't* need too much tweaking, although I've edited it faithfully, but it worked out fine, another in similar time which will need another three months of licking into shape.

And I've done the 'write too fast' thing where I was churning out the bits I can do well - dialogue, character interaction, internalisation - and missing out the ones I find difficult, like description. With the result that parts of it are almost *all* internalisation, and the result is... not pretty.

I've come to the conclusion that I can only _think_ so fast, and type so fast, and if I try to skimp then the quality will suffer, but Terry Pratchett has been turning out two novels a year almost every year for the past fifteen or so, and he writes beautifully, and certainly didn't oversaturate the market.

Four books a year might be problematic, but two?