Write Faster, They Said… It Will Be Easy, They Said…

panicYou know that scene in movies where someone is staring down a long hallway and they need to get to the end of it quickly, but the faster they run, the longer it gets and the slower their steps seem to be? They might as well be walking in place. That’s how I feel, writing this current book. And the kicker is, I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written before. So why do I feel like I have nearly nothing to show for it?

blurWriters are told that if they want to stay “in the game”, they need to produce new material every few months. A new book, a novella, something to retain the interest of their readers. There are SO many authors out there and SO many books, that if you can’t keep producing something new, your readers are going to look elsewhere.

My last book came out in November. I had gotten used to deadlines, working with Crimson Romance. So this is the first time in a long time that I was on my own schedule. I started my current WIP for NaNoWriMo, in November. Sure, I got almost 35k words in, but this thing had so many problems that I threw it aside and refused to even look at it until January. Then it took me weeks to figure out what the heck was bothering me so much about it. I’m back on track, but I lost months of work time on this project.

Writer panic.

haNow I’m writing almost every day. Trying for a scene a day. Not quite NaNoWriMo word count, but productive. And then I start paying attention to all the new releases. Wait, didn’t that author have something out last month? A whole trilogy in a few months’ time? How the hell do they do that? I can’t compete with this! What’s the point? Why am I even trying?

Breathe.

Readers might not even realize the pressure that authors face to write fast, faster, fastest. Some authors rise to the challenge, stretching their writing muscles and going for it. Some go at their own pace and are happy to make any sales because they’re doing what they love. I’m that little hamster in the wheel, trying like hell to get at least three books out per year, like a good little writer hamster. I want to be noticed. I have big dreams that start with best sellers’ lists and conclude with my books being made into Hallmark TV movies. I don’t have the luxury of writing a book or two over my lifetime if I want these dreams to come true. I need to write, and I need to write often.

So what do I do? How do I take pride in accomplishment at having put in a hard days’ work? I’m currently on chapter seven, out of probably twenty. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in the book, that there is so much to go. Yet I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing this thing since November. I know I’m good for a scene, maybe a part of another, in one good work day. I can’t squeeze out any more than that.

I’ve read the advice out there: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll make time for it.” Um… making time. But my creative brain doesn’t work like most people’s. I have peak hours of operation. My muse takes off after seven PM or so. She might come back by five AM, but she refuses to sit up all night, drinking coffee and pounding out words while the rest of the family sleeps.

cartoonwriterSo yeah, I’m panicking. I am trying to finish this book, and as much of the next in the trilogy for Nationals this July. I set a goal to sign with an agent this year. But they don’t want to read my published books. They want to know what I have for them to sell. What am I working on next. How long does it take me to produce a new book? Am I worth their time and effort? Am I? I’m trying like heck to be.

Anyone have any coping strategies? (Besides alcohol?) How do I maintain a steady pace and still produce enough books to make an agent, readers and potential editors happy? How do I do this and keep myself happy? Because what is the point of writing books for a living if you aren’t happy while doing it? Yoga? Meditation? Cute baby animal videos? How do you keep from cracking under the pressure to be more than you are?

 

About Jennifer DeCuir

I write small town contemporary romance for Crimson Romance. Busy mom of two, I live for (or is it on?) coffee and chocolate.
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11 Responses to Write Faster, They Said… It Will Be Easy, They Said…

  1. Angela Smith says:

    Wow! Great post and I totally feel you! But the more pressure you put on yourself, the worse it’ll be. I work a grueling and mentally draining full time job, so the energy to write comes in spurts. I do what I can, and I might never reach that 3 book a year goal, but I think it’s best to do what works for you and ignore all other advice. If I listened to that advice, I’d say what’s the point and stop writing. But I can’t imagine doing that!

  2. Dena says:

    I agree with Angela. It’s taken me well over a year to finish book #2. A lot of that time was spent either pressuring myself to churn out words or wallowing in pity of “I’m not good enough” because I can’t churn out words fast enough. I find that social media tends to pressure me. I see all these authors doing this or that and I find myself wanting to do the same when in reality, I just can’t. It’s not me. That’s when I turn it off and take a break. Of course, writing is not my full-time job. It’s something that I still do as a hobby, so it’s easy for me to say that. But honestly, I don’t ever see myself getting 3 books in a year. I think we all work at different paces and you have to not compare yourself with those that work faster.

  3. Great post! I feel you. I grapple with these concerns, too. I don’t know that anyone has it figured out, or at least not for everyone. I so want balance in my life and writing on tight deadlines, for me, while fun makes balance very challenging. I do the things you mention: meditate, get out in nature when I’m overwhelmed, breath. My latest thing is to believe. When panic starts to shout in my ear, GET BUSY, YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO GET WHAT YOU WANT, etc., I consciously shift to optimistic and supportive thoughts. It eases my panic. Writing for me is hard work, and accepting that and preserving feeds my positive beliefs. Good luck!

  4. Becky Lower says:

    Having just completed my contract with Crimson, I’m in the same boat at you, Jennifer. I have 3 books started, er, finished, but since I have no time line for them and no idea where to send them, I keep tinkering with them and feel they’ll never be completely finished. I too have a goal of getting an agent this year. A really good one. But that’s as hard to do as writing “The End” on one of these manuscripts.

  5. Alexia Adams says:

    Actually, I have the opposite problem but it comes with its own issues. My muse is on steroids and often has ‘roid rage. When the children are in school I write 5 hours straight, barely coming up for air, never mind housework. Then as soon as they’re in bed I’m back at the keyboard. I spend at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week writing. If I try to take a day or two off my muse tempts me with brilliant pieces of dialogue or enticing scenes that fix huge plot holes. She hates editing, though, always wants to write a new story. So I have tons of “completed” but not “edited” manuscripts. I am forcing myself to see ones through to submission before I let her write another new one. So yes, I’m productive, but I feel I’ve lost my life-balance. I want to spend time with my children (I’ve got 4), I want to stay healthy and go for walks and meet up with girlfriends for drinks but my muse never shuts up. If I pick up a book to read for pleasure she always finds something in it to spark an idea. Something is going to give soon, and I fear it might be my mind. So, maybe my advice is to go at your own pace, remember the fast don’t always win the race.

  6. Thanks so much for the input, everyone. I think I just see so many other authors doing it and just assume I should be able to do it just as easily. I put the pressure on myself and I have to be the one to take a step back and admit I need a day off to regroup. Having said that, I gave myself permission to unwind and doing a little retail therapy at the mall. A Tollhouse cookie for dinner and I think I’ll be okay. I did find a fabulous new piece of artwork for my desk that seemed to be quite serendipitous. It says “She believed she could so she did.” I love it.

  7. Lola Karns says:

    When I’m rushed, the book doesn’t gel. I’ll see you in the slow lane.

    • I started this one for NaNoWriMo and did rush – and caused myself so many problems that I had to redo the beginning three times before I finally got on the right track. SO not worth it!

  8. I understand completely, Jennifer. I tried NaNoWriMo two years ago and tried so hard to keep up with the word count that I ignored my process…which is slow and steady wins the race. I count it a plus if I get one book out a year. I can’t imagine trying for three!! I agree with the others. Respect your process and don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. (I know we all do, but I’ll say it anyway) Quality not quantity. Good luck, my friend!

  9. I have an opinion on this, not as a writer but as a reader. I always prefer when my favorite authors take their time to write a quality book rather than write a lot of books in a short time. If you don’t take the time you need to make it great, the writing suffers. Take a year if that’s what you need to put your heart into it. Don’t let someone else’s timeframe force you to write faster and less interesting content.

    As an example, James Patterson used to write a book every 6-12 months and they had twists and turns and depth and complexity. Now he seems to write a book every 1-3 months and they are all the same feeling and I’ve completely stopped reading his stuff.

    I love love love what you’ve written so far, and am willing to wait for the amazing gem I know will come out of the time you’re spending on this one. Don’t let my pleas for a new book make you anxious 🙂

  10. Chupacabra says:

    If I ever have a fight with somebody, or tension, or drama …I’ll just get on Facebook to see if they said anything about their mood, or anything about me in particular, or something like that.

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