Some writers work fast. Some writers work slow. Very slow. There’s a lot of pressure in the writing/publishing world to write on at least a book a year pace. There’s pressure from readers, too, as we can see from the way some readers bemoan the length of time they have to wait for George R.R. Martin’s books, for example.
And we unpublished authors don’t escape the pressure, either, as we watch writers we’ve known for years sign book deals and rack up adoring fans. We scramble to squeeze more writing hours into our days, but find ourselves spending less time with the people we love. We skip steps in our writing process, thinking they’re slowing us down, but end up with an inferior product. We cut back on novel reading to give ourselves more time to write, but find ourselves out of touch with the market and uninspired to create our own magic.
Recently, I’ve come to accept the way I work. No two writers work alike, and you have to be true to your own process. When discussing voice and style, we always emphasize the importance of finding your own, a voice and style that is all yours and not an imitation of someone else’s. Why can’t we do that with the writing process? Trying to be more efficient, trying to make your process better, is one thing. Trying to throw out everything that helps you write well just because it’s not “fast enough” is something else.
Chances are that the way you write reflects your personal learning style. I first discovered learning styles while doing research on how to tailor lessons for my kids (who I homeschool), and it completely altered the way I look at myself and how I work. Using myself as an example: I tend to write slow because the story doesn’t reveal itself to me all at once. Writing is very much a layering process for me; I get my ideas on paper, then see connections between them, get those on paper, and see even more connections. It can be very frustrating to realize something that should have been obvious from the beginning. Especially because it triples the amount of time and work I have to do.
But when I learned about the visual-spatial learning style, it suddenly made sense. Unlike auditory-sequential learners, visual-spatial learners don’t think, well, sequentially. Auditory-sequential learners can take an idea or fact and progress easily onto the next logical step. Visual-spatial learners tend to need a bunch of ideas or facts that they can “spread out” in their minds before they can make connections between them.
I have a theory that many slow writers are visual-spatial learners. I’m sure quite a few faster writers have visual-spatial tendencies, too, but that’s not the point. The point is, our writing process is what it is because it’s hard-wired into our brains. Your writing process stems from a vital aspect of what makes you you. For example, if you were an auditory-sequential rather than a visual-spatial (or vice-versa), you wouldn’t be writing this exact story. Your learning process itself would change the way your work unfolds.
So if you write every day and are dedicated to your craft, but still seem to move at a snail’s pace, don’t beat yourself up–this is what I’ve learned. Embrace your process, don’t fight it. For me, my work has gotten better for recognizing it.