Slow Writers Anonymous

Slow Writers Anonymous

Slow Writers Anonymous: moving at the speed of ice mountains.
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things are not progressing as planned. Two months ago, I was on top of the world, ahead of schedule with my novel and feeling good about my writing. Today, I’m feeling a tad depressed as I have to admit I’m not going to make my (admittedly) self-imposed first revision deadline of January 31.  There are a few reasons for the delay, including a toddler who’s learned how to climb out of her crib and an opportunity for a professional critique that I’m obsessing over (Type A, me? No way!), but fundamentally it comes down to time.

I’m currently averaging about two hours of writing time, five days a week. When I was actively writing, not editing, I easily made my goal of 500 words a day, bumped that to 750, then 1,200, and felt really proud of myself. I was making progress! The novel was measurably closer to completion after each writing session.

But now? Now that I’m editing, reviewing the same material night after night, rewriting, polishing and perfecting…well, it doesn’t feel like progress. I know my novel is getting better, I can feel the shine coming through the tarnished words on the page, but I can’t measure it, and I don’t feel closer to done. It makes me want to scream.

But there’s hope! At least, if you can find hope in the words of author Chuck Wendig, who says:

I wrote six novels before I published my seventh, Blackbirds. And I wrote God-Only-Knows how many unfinished novels before that — leaving behind me a trail of broken story-corpses like furniture that fell off a truck because somebody forgot to tie all the shit down…

Blackbirds took me four or five years to write.

Moral of the story: “It takes the time it takes.” So I guess I need to buck up and get back to work, push on and forget about how long it’s taking to get ‘er done. It takes the time it takes, and so long as I’m working and moving forward, I can relax my damned self-imposed deadlines. Adjust and recover. Right.

A met another stay-at-home-mom-writer, M T McGuire, who has a similar problem. She says:

I call myself a writer because I can write a bloody book, even if there are fossils that have formed in less time than it takes me to produce each one.

In our brief virtual interactions, we’ve bonded. We’re sisters of a sort, time-poor, idea-rich individuals with responsibilities that can’t be pushed aside or down-prioritized. As such, we’ve come up with a brilliant, albeit unformed plan. We’re going to create a support group for slow writers, individuals who feel frustrated with their glacial progress and need someone to point out that progress is progress, even if it’s only inches a year.

It’s not really anonymous, unless you don’t share any personal information on Twitter or the internet, but we’ll be starting the conversation using hashtag #slowwriting. We can share stories and frustrations, offer support and motivation, and generally chat about writing.

What do you think? Would any of you be interested in participating in a group like that? I hope you’ll join us, but please comment below with other suggestions!


3 comments on “Slow Writers Anonymous

  1. Hello fellow slowbie. Very well put. 😉




  2. […] If you’re having difficulty with writing, Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada suggest dreaming in dialogue as a way to kickstart your writing.  Megan Haskell laments how her writing has slowed and suggests other writers who are not writing as much as they”d like share frustrations and stories on Twitter at #slowwriting. […]


  3. […] said in the past that I’m a slow writer, that I only have a couple of hours — at most — each day to write, and that the work […]


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