Write faster = write worse? Maybe…maybe not…

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“RT: hurry up writing, Rick! / (Yoda voice) “There is no ‘hurry up.’ Only ‘get it right.'” Write faster = write worse.”

The tweet above was from Rick Riordan a few days ago…just one tweet in the midst of responding to readers on Twitter. Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson series — books I have loved and now my daughter has devoured them as well before she turned nine. But about the comment — a throwaway line, sure, but how true is it? 

I definitely haven’t sold as many books as Mr. Riordan and I can only dream of the success he has achieved, but I do take a little exception to the sentiment. What it says to me is this: Don’t write fast…that would be wrong and mistake-filled. That a writer needs to slow down and take their time. 

A few things: 

1. Riordan is now in the class of writers who basically puts one book out a year. One. To him, perfecting the book takes that long and by the time the book has been released, it has been your entire life for 365 days. In fact, I just checked…his newest, House of Hades will be released in hardback on October 8. The previous book in the series, Mark of Athena was released October 2 last year. 

2. Not all writers are in a position to write like that. For a lot of indie authors, we depend on quantity. The more books and stories we have out, the better chance of being discovered and building on the success of each additional title. I don’t want to make it seem like we sacrifice quality for quantity, however. With almost every indie author I know, we spend A LOT of time studying and analyzing each word we write and most of us get many opinions before we publish a single word. But it doesn’t mean we wait a year. I’m fairly new to this and I published a novel, a short story and a novella over the summer with another novella coming next week (I hope). All have over 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and I worked my butt off on each one. 

3. Writing quickly can produce some excellent work. When I was in college, I took a creative writing course and the times that I liked the best were the “free write” times where the professor set a timer for 10 minutes and we just had to write whatever came to mind during that time. True, most of it was junk. But, there was always nuggets of awesomeness buried in the mess. You can always go back and edit. I say write quick and get your thoughts down on paper or on the computer and edit later. The other day I was watching Hugh Howey (Author of the WOOL series) speak at a creativeLIVE event and he said he really preferred to write quicker in a smaller time frame like a month to three months — it keeps the plot more coherent in the writer’s mind and the plot can build on itself quickly and efficiently. 

4. But, I also don’t want to discount Riordan’s words, either. Obviously he knows what works for him and the Percy Jackson success shows it has worked. But, for the casual reader, it might show that writing is a long and laborious process and that is simply not true for all writers. 

So…whatever your writing process is…make sure it works for you. Rick Riordan’s writing process works for him, but it wouldn’t work for me or you. Whatever you do….keep writing.

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3 thoughts on “Write faster = write worse? Maybe…maybe not…

  1. Thank you for the advice. I’ve heard a lot of advice on not to rush the writing process (and even given it myself), but I’m a fast writer. What else can I say? It takes me a month to write a first draft, and a few months after that to finish editing. Writing fast doesn’t always = bad writing. Sometimes it can, sometimes it can’t, in my opinion.

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