Hey guys, I'm hanging out in the VIP treehouse, which just got some sweet hand-me-down curtains from some dude driving by in a VW van. They're orange and brown. You know I can't pass up orange and brown. I'd invite you up for some lime Kool-Aid, but, well, it's VIP only. Hey, I don't make the rules...oh wait. Nevermind.
Anyway, my friend Adam Heine is heading up this meeting today. If you haven't met him, there are a few things you need to know. 1) He writes about air pirates. Air pirates who have a fantastic vocabularly. 2) He lives in Thailand, where he and his incredible wife foster children. They currently have NINE. 3) If it wasn't obvious from the first two, Adam is freaking awesome.
Okay, take it away, Adam!
J. K. Rowling took five years to write the first Harry Potter.
It's okay to write slow.
Those of us who take a year or more to draft a novel are tempted to
believe we're doing something wrong. Like we're too lazy, managing our
time wrong, editing our words too much, or (God forbid) not meant to
be writers at all. Some of those things might be true, but slow
writing doesn't prove it.
(Terry Pratchett wrote his first novel at 400 words a day.)
You might be climbing a learning curve. My first novel took me
5 years to draft and 2 to edit. My second took me two years total. I'm
still slow, but I'm getting better. You will too. That's what practice
(The Harry Potter series took an average of 2 years per book to write.)
You might be a planner. Natalie herself will tell you that fast
drafts don't mean finished products. They need a lot of editing
after they're "done." Not that slow drafts are perfect, but sometimes
slow can mean cleaner.
(George R. R. Martin has been working for 5 years on his next Ice and
Fire novel. He's still not finished, but I'll buy it when he is.)
You might be unpublished. There are really only two reasons you
have to write fast: (1) you signed a contract with a deadline
or (2) you write to put food on the table. The rest of us have the
freedom to write at whatever pace we want, learning as we go.
(Susanna Clarke took 10 years to finish her debut novel, which won
some awards and got
optioned for a lot of money.)
You might have a life. Maybe you have a full-time job, a
family, and an X-Box. Kids are a full-time job on their own (I know, I
have nine) and worth more than a publishing contract. Not that you
shouldn't go for the contract too, but if you're sacrificing writing
speed to play Guitar Hero with your daughter, I call that a win.
There are reasons writing can take a long time, many of them good.
Live life. Write slow.