In exciting news, I have begun to balance preparing the Herezoth Trilogy’s second edition for an Autumn release–I hope to have a date soon, so stay posted!–with starting a first draft of a companion piece that tells the story of Zalski’s coup of Herezoth from the point of view of one of his supporters, a servant girl in the Palace named Verony.
This has gotten me frustrated at how SLOW the process is going. I mean, WRITING. Actually WRITING again after doing nothing but editing for so ridiculously long. Looking back, I haven’t written a first draft of something fiction-y since NaNoWriMo 2012. 2012!!!
Naturally, I’ve been examining why things are going slowly, and trying to determine whether that’s a problem or it’s just how I create. All three books in my Herezoth trilogy had long pauses and slow progress. But I ended up happy with the results. I plowed through my NaNoWriMo novel in 2o12 and am convinced it is so dreadful I can never make anything of it. (At least it’s proven good fodder and given me some characters for my new first draft.)
ANYWAY, for good or bad (or for… neutrality? neither?) here are some of the reasons writing is going slowly for me, and might be going slowly for you too.
- The transition from editing to writing again. This switch is always a transition. I’m going from working three novels that were more or less cohesive already to the grand mess that is a first draft. The difference in quality is obvious, and I can’t help but mark it. It makes me want to fix it. Which leads to….
- Perfectionism. Because perfectionism is always a paralyzer. A sedative. It stops you in your tracks.
- Overthinking. Which is different than perfectionism. If nothing else, it’s a different “shade” of what we call “perfectionism.” For me, it’s the difference between being afraid of making any mistake and being afraid of making a monster error. There is a big difference between (1) wanting things to be perfect and (2) just wanting to make sure you aren’t screwing up a major, huge, early choice your protagonist has to make: a choice that, if you get wrong, you’ll have to rewrite everything. That’s not fun. And I don’t want to go to there. So I end up going nowhere.
- Not a lot of prepwork. Some writers like to wing it. That’s why I didn’t say, “not ENOUGH prepwork.” Is it possible, when we are writing slowly, that we could benefit from more detailed, organized prewriting? Perhaps. It all depends on the individual writer, how their process works, and whether writing slowly is a frustrating thing for them or not. Again, the fastest first draft I ever wrote is one I could find no real potential in at all. Writing “fast” does not equal “good writing” in every case, for every person.
So, what do you think of this? Are you a slow writer or a fast writer? Does writing slowly frustrate you, or do you accept it as part of how you, personally, go about the creative process? Have you found that prewriting makes writing more enjoyable for you? If so, does the fact that prewriting makes writing go FASTER its major draw?
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out this Fall. She also has a writer’s handbook out, titled “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.”