Are you a slow writer?

That was the question my mentor asked me, early on in my career.  Since I had no yardstick to measure my pace against, I couldn’t give an answer but I presumed I was slower than other writers he’d mentored.

But now I know and the answer is it depends what I’m writing.  Short stories I can write quickly, usually because a lot of the text is already in my head and I know the ending. And that’s why it can be difficult to maintain the momentum in longer pieces of work. A story outline will keep you on track, as will knowing your characters and what they want and what they’re prepared to give up to get it. These will help you with dialogue so that you’re not left guessing what a certain character might or might not say.

If you do write more slowly than other writers you know, don’t be concerned.  Here are a few writers who took their time producing their first novel:

J. K. Rowling – 7 years from initial idea through developing the Harry Potter world to finding an agent and then a publisher.

John Boyne – wrote Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in 2 days but admitted to nearly 20 years of research before he started writing it.

J.R.R.Tolkien took 17 years to write Lord of the Rings, starting in 1937 and rewriting many sections before the complete works were finally published in 1954/55.

What all three authors have in common is a determination and commitment to their projects and that’s worth far more than the speed at which you complete a project.

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Filed under Character mapping, Characters

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