The Slow Train

When is it good to write slowly?

I’ve talked about NaNoWriMo a few times on here. This is because I do think it’s really valuable to let go of your inner editor and write like the wind. Especially if you need to start – or finish – your first book, I highly recommend this technique for getting past the blocks we all have. You know, the voices that say, this is no good, I don’t know where the plot is going, and I can’t even write.

When it comes to writing, though, you can make up however many rules you like, but the opposite will always be true, too. The only rule that really matters is this: do what works for you. And make sure it’s good. Maybe that’s two rules (see what I mean?). This week I’ve been thinking the opposite of my usual approach (ie write first, ask questions later). What about a spot of planning? What about some slow, ponderous thinking? Why not actual consider character, setting, and theme in advance? So, after all my talk of writing fast and not worrying about what you’re doing, when is it good to write slowly?

I signed up to do NaNoWriMo this year out of curiosity more than anything else – I liked the idea, and the collaborative and supportive atmosphere. I’ve no intention of actually writing 50,000 words this month. It’s just not the right time. Because having followed my own maxim, I’ve done the writing and now (sadly) it’s time to ask the questions. I have several things in need of editing and to write something else would actually be laziness (the edits being the truly hard part) and procrastination. Instead I’m doing a few hundred words a day of something very new, a large and ambitious idea. It’s nice to have no pressure of deadline, either from myself or others, and very soothing after bashing away at edits not to worry about where it’s going or what on earth’s going on. Writing as relaxation, in a way. I’ve found even my style is different this way– longer sentences, more description, less dialogue than usual. Slow fiction. Yes, there are lots of times when it’s good to write slowly.

So if you’re finding a novel in a month just isn’t working for you, don’t worry. Maybe you’re in a slow period. Maybe it would be better to spend the time thinking, or planning, or just staring into space with a furrowed brow.  So don’t worry about ‘winning’ (Is it just me or this kind of childish anyway, like giving every child in the class a prize? Be proud of finishing by all means, be hugely and deservedly proud, but writing’s not about ‘winning’.**) And hey, if you feel like doing the headlong-rush approach, there’s always next month. And the next.

 

**Unless it’s winning a highly lucrative and prestigious literary contest. Please.

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