Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Slow Writing Memes

by J. Lea López

Uh oh... Guess what day it is?

Okay, I won't go there. (But I bet you just said it in your head, didn't you?) Today's post is just a little something fun to get you over those mid-week blahs. Who doesn't like a good meme, right?

My writing process is a little different than some other people. Aside from writing by hand, I'm a slow writer. Quick and dirty drafts don't fly from these fingers. It simply doesn't happen. But there's so many tips, tricks, snippets of advice, etc. encouraging exactly that. I bet you can name a few.

It doesn't have to be right, it just has to be done.

Don't think, don't edit, just write.

Pretty much anything you'll read on a NaNoWriMo message board.

Don't get me wrong, this is a great approach for plenty of people. But it's also a dreadful approach for others. I think it's high time we slow writers have a few sayings or memes of our own to give other slow writers a bit of support.

A lot of effort goes into every word. And I'm okay with that.

We all have to find what works for us with writing. We judiciously apply the writing "rules" because we come to realize they're guidelines more than anything; we find ways to strike a balance between things like genre expectations and the story waiting to be told; we experiment and learn which word processing software works best for us based on what we want it to do. The same goes for pacing ourselves with our drafts.

I've been working with a friend as she works on her current WIP. She's used to the hard and fast word vomit sort method of drafting and can churn out 100,000 words or more in an insanely short amount of time. But she's had trouble editing that down later into something cohesive. With her new story, she expressed some frustration to me about taking longer than usual to get the first draft written. However, she felt more confident about what she had written so far and felt more confident that she was going to avoid the massive wordiness that had plagued her previously. She'd never really considered the possibility that slower could actually be better.

When it comes time to give advice about first drafts, we've all apparently forgotten Aesop's famous moral: Slow and steady wins the race.

I would rather think a little longer and get it mostly right the first time than spit out a bunch of words I'll end up cutting later. Sure, it takes me twice as long, maybe even three times as long, to pen a first draft than some other writers. But I tend to write very clean first drafts. I don't say that to brag. I say it to make the point that it's ultimately the end result--the book--that matters. How you get there is a journey all your own. My pace might not work for you. Yours might not work for me, or for someone else. There's nothing wrong with that. If you're a slow writer, don't feel pressured into adopting a fast draft style if it's going to drive you nuts (which it would for me). I felt awful the first time I attempted NaNo because I couldn't achieve the high word counts the way some other people did. The next year I stopped beating myself up over it because that will never be my process and trying to force myself to do work that way is counterproductive. And guess what? I wrote twice as much that year.

Are you a slow writer? If you are (or even if you're not) hop on over to a meme generator and make some funny, encouraging, or silly writing memes and share them with us! Tweet them to us or share them on our Facebook page.

J. Lea López is a published author of character-driven stories that focus on relationships, from the platonic to the romantic, and never shy away from the bedroom. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.


JeffO said...

I'm a slow writer in that it takes me time to produce a draft, but it's not a very clean draft. My pie chart would look a lot different than yours!

cleemckenzie said...

I'm in that slow writer camp with you. It takes me a long time to set down those thoughts, and I can't just plunk; I must place.

J. Lea Lopez said...

Jeff, make a pie chart and share it with us on FB or Twitter! My example was just for fun. :-)

Clee - "I can't just plunk; I must place." I absolutely LOVE that! It's so true.

LD Masterson said...

I have never been able to stop editing as I go. By the time I get to the end of a first draft, my early chapters are on their fifth or sixth revision.

J. Lea Lopez said...

LD - I don't usually edit in a big way as I go (aside from thinking and re-thinking scenes and sentences before writing them) unless it's something that majorly affects the rest of the book. But hey, at least once you're done the first draft you only have to do edit a handful of chapters at the end!

I love how different everyone's process is.

Kurara Okumura said...

I'm the exact same as you. Everything you wrote up above applies to me, from your pie chart to your NaNoWriMo experience. I felt terrible when I met up with my NaNoWriMo friends who kept going on writing sprints, ending up with sometimes over 2,000 words written in 15 minutes while I stalled after just 200.

I feel much better this year; I'm taking my time with NaNo Camp this time, and I find it much easier to write. :P

Hannah said...

Thank you for pointing out this post to me Jennifer! It's very helpful. I think I'm an in-between writer. I can do Nano without a problem and the story lines are solid when I go at full speed but I take a lot of time editing later. Still trying to figure out what works best for me!
I love the Meme board. Hadn't seen it before!