How fast should a novel be written? Is there some kind of
guideline to which all authors should conform? Are faster writers better than
slow writers—or vice versa?
Not all novels can—or should—be written fast…. Although we do aim to finish our books, not fiddle forever, I worry that we are too obsessed by speed…. My writing pace isn’t unusual; I recently finished reading The Lessons by Naomi Alderman and was heartened to see a four-year gap between novel 1 and novel 2. She marinates even longer than I do.
Authors under contract to publishers who demand a book or more a year may have little choice in their speed. But if you’ve yet to be published, now is a good time to consider the benefits of pacing yourself. In her article “9 Writing Mistakes That Just Won’t Quit” (The Writer, April 2012), Susan Breen, a teacher at Gotham Writers’ Workshop, shared a lesson about getting ahead of ourselves:
One of the very first things I did as a writer, when I had written no more than about three paragraphs of my first story was look through a reference book for places that might publish it. My list had more words in it than my story. And I’m embarrassed to say that the minute I finished the first draft, I sent the story out. To 20 places. Each of them rejected me with a form letter.
Tell me your opinion: Have you ever rushed a novel and regretted it?
Related Posts: The Value of Stories That Fail
Why You Should Stick With a Story
Why You Should Kick Your Story Aside and Write a Different One
Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Wordplay podcast in iTunes).
Story by K.M. Weiland