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Old 05-15-2013, 08:32 PM   #1
BeccaPrice
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the value of taking your time?

So I've been hanging out at another forum for writers, and getting some good help and advice, but I'm noticing a trend that rather distresses me. All the writing advice I've seen says to let a novel sit for a week or more - better, a month - and then going over it again. And the advice seems to stress getting good beta readers, if not a full-blown editor, to help catch continuity errors and other such problems.

but what I'm noticing at the other forum is that there seems to be strong emphasis on turning out as many books as you can, as fast as you can. Many of these people, it seems, are publishing first drafts (and citing Dean Wesley Smith's example of writing a book in a very short time, and just sending it off - and blogging all the while he was doing so.)

I write short bedtime stories for children, and I spend a lot of time polishing each one until it feels like a little gem.

Maybe, if I wanted to make a living at this, I should be churning out erotica at $2.99 for a novella/short story - erotica fans seem to be more tolerant of higher prices for shorter works, it seems. (not that I have anything against good quality erotica, but it's not my thing)

I dunno. Hanging out there is getting depressing.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:32 PM   #2
Anna Drake
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DWS turned his novel in to a trad publisher, who I believe will provide editing. And I don't think anyone is arguing against proofing your work. I read an excellent post in another forum about how one author turns out large numbers of books. But I think she sent them out to beta readers along with editing each chapter three times as she wrote the rest of the novel. But her output is amazing. And that DWS can write 7,000 words a day leaves me on the floor.

But that kind of output need not be for us all. Personally, I'd like to kick my productivity up by more than a notch. But we all have to work at a pace suited for us. Your goal I bet is to turn out well turned prose that translates into charming stories. Others write action scenes where the words, while still important, don't count quite so much. I think with all writing, we have to do what pleases ourselves because if we don't love it, nobody else will.

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Old 05-15-2013, 10:38 PM   #3
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I am reminded of a story. I will let you decide if it is a real or fictional.

Scene: Lunch room.
George: "Gene, I have approached every attractive girl on the third floor about free love with no strings, but none agree."
Gene: "Well, are you willing to lower your standards on the attractive part?"
George: "Hell no man! I am Sigma Nu!"
Gene: "Well, maybe you need to canvass more than just one floor?"
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:33 PM   #4
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Maybe while letting the one manuscript 'cool' before editing work could be started on another project? A couple of short stories or a novella perhaps? Then when your mind is fresh and you can see problems in your previous work that you might have missed before you could edit the longer manuscript.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:14 AM   #5
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I think it depends on what you're writing for.

If you hope to be a professional - as in: earn predictable money from it - then I guess you have to learn to be able to write on demand. My profession is software development. I write code to requirement and to deadline, I can't afford to let it sit by for a month and come back and see if it still looks good. I've spent years honing those skills so that I can do that - but even so, there is much I would go back over now and do better, if someone would pay me to do so.

As much as I might like to write full-time, at the moment I can only consider writing to be a hobby. I can't write to requirement, nor to deadline - and I don't particularly want to. I want to write what makes me happy. The only deadlines I face are my own compulsions to see how it all comes out. I write the first draft and review it immediately, but then I do set it aside - it usually turns out to be for months - and then I come back and go over it again and again until I am happy it is as good as I can get it.

This is not to say that the slow road is the better road. It's a different road, that's all. If you write a lot very fast then you may learn many lessons from the sheer volume of what you have tried to do. If you write slow you may learn many lessons from the attention to detail this forces on you. With either approach, what lessons you actually learn is up to you.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:13 AM   #6
caleb72
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I remember a couple of authors saying that it's really important to have a body of work behind you to be successful. I think by that they mean that if you release your masterpiece and it's the only item you've released, it will be very hard to be successful with it.

However, if you have a "catalogue" of some 15 pieces of work, you've developed a brand that is recognisable and your masterpiece is more likely to get the attention you hope it deserves.

I don't think that means you should put out crap, just an acknowledgement that quantity as well as quality is important for success.

Additionally, I guess there's the idea that the more you write, the more you develop your skills as a writer. I don't know where you exactly make the distinction between building your brand and learning from your mistakes - but I guess there's a sweet spot somewhere.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:52 AM   #7
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Caleb72, your post raises the ideal of a "catalogue" - and there is, I think, something in that (though I think 15 may be placing the bar a little high). As a reader I am very guilty of preferring to choose authors that have other books available. Given a choice between trying someone with only one or two books, and someone with a catalogue, I will almost always choose the catalogue - because there is a bigger potential pay-off if the new author turns out to be someone I like. I don't know how prevalent this attitude is.
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Old 05-16-2013, 05:13 AM   #8
M.T. Miles
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The world is full of those who will give you advice and as I have always said you cannot learn anything you don't already know by listening to yourself. But it is also important to be true to yourself and to do what you think is best for you. For me quality is more important than quantity but the same will not be true for everyone.
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:10 AM   #9
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The idea of leaving it for a month is so you can forget what you wrote. That way you're more likely to notice any bad sentence structures. Unless you've got your beta readers on hold and ready for action it'll be at least a month before you hear anything from them (if at all), so just don't look at it yourself until then.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeccaPrice View Post
Maybe, if I wanted to make a living at this, I should be churning out erotica at $2.99 for a novella/short story - erotica fans seem to be more tolerant of higher prices for shorter works, it seems. (not that I have anything against good quality erotica, but it's not my thing)
Given how many works those "authors" submit in a day, I'm not entirely sure they're even a single person. I remember seeing the pseudo-incest woman with two in a row on Smashwords' front page, so either she's bashing them out faster than L. Ron Hubbard and his buddies were, or she's running a sweatshop.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:20 AM   #11
BeccaPrice
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I understand that some people write fast. I'm a technical writer in my "real" world job, and I can work fast, and pretty good first drafts, but there are always issues that need a "clean eyes" review by another party.

When I write my fairy tales, I have gone over them so many times in my mind (and told them to my kids often enough) that they're pretty polished by the time I actually sit down to write them out - but even then, I know they need time and beta readers and revision. I'm a pretty clean writer, but there's always something.

That's why I wonder whether these writers who churn out a book a month or faster simply submit their first drafts - I can't see that kind of productivity being coequal with multiple drafts.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:26 AM   #12
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So really it is a game of balance...The key to financial success IS volume. Make no mistake about it. All, as in ALL, with out exception, the indy authors that I have spoken with that make a full time living doing this have a large catalog of books. It is a numbers game. When your selling books at a few dollars a pop, and only taking home maybe 60%... you need to sell a lot of them to make real money.

On the flip side is the books have to be good enough to sell. They need to be readable, and have a market where people enjoy them. Bad books do not inspire people to buy more of your books, or recommend your books to others.

So if your goal is financial success - you need to produce as many books as YOU can as fast as YOU can while keeping them of a GOOD ENOUGH quality to sell.

If you are writing for enjoyment, you can take more time and produce better books at a slower rate and maybe one day far off you will produce enough quality works to pull in some cash.

Well this post is entirely my opinion, and I do not claim to be an expert, I am sure I am right. Otherwise it would not be my opinion.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:27 AM   #13
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Yes, a professional who can produce more quickly at similar quality is economically more useful than the slower one.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M.T. Miles View Post
I have always said you cannot learn anything you don't already know by listening to yourself.
Can you qualify or explain that, or are you actually saying you know everything and don't need to listen to anybody?

To the OP: Becca, I don't understand the question. You seem to be saying that you're getting advice to not rush things and take the time to reflect, revisit, revise, and you are saying you want to do that. What's the problem?

The need to be prolific if you intend to make a living from the craft is not contradictory to that.

ApK

Last edited by ApK; 05-16-2013 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeccaPrice View Post
[...]That's why I wonder whether these writers who churn out a book a month or faster simply submit their first drafts - I can't see that kind of productivity being coequal with multiple drafts.
I imagine that the ones producing books quickly, with adequate quality, may be using a production line approach. That is: many books going at once, each at different stages of production. Just because they produce a book a month or whatever, doesn't necessarily mean the book only took one month to produce. With multiple books on the go it would be possible to use the time when creative juices are not flowing to work on books already past that stage. I could never do it, but it seems that some people can.
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