Slowing down

When I first started writing, I remember hearing some writers who’d been at it for a while talking about how writing was taking them longer than it used to–that they were struggling more to meet deadlines, that the whole process took more time, that it was easier to get stuck than it used to be.

At the time, this made no sense to me. I was a professional; I could write whatever I wanted, on demand, as quickly as I needed to; that was what professionals did. Those older writers must just not care enough anymore to push hard, I thought, or maybe they’d just gotten lazy. If anything, with all that experience, they should be able to write faster than me.

I was young. I was greener than I realized. I knew a lot less than I thought I did.

Because now … well, I still make all my fiction deadlines, and I’m proud of that. But the process definitely isn’t as fast as it used to be. It’s not because I’m lazy (well, not only; I’m hardly immune to foot-dragging — but that’s another subject); it’s because I’m a better writer.

And being a better writer means I demand more from my stories. I want my character arcs to land perfectly; I want my language and metaphors to reflect the larger world of the story; I was my language to have voice; I want all sorts of things. I don’t always get them–I’m not so good a writer that my reach doesn’t still exceed my grasp–but I can see all these things I feel a story can and should do. I’m more demanding, and in some ways, more accutely aware of how every book falls short in the end. It’s harder to dash a story off and be satisfied; I was always a revision-based writer, but I revise a lot harder now, it seems, and revision no longer just means cutting out the extraneous scenes and tightening up the language a little.

But of course, some part of me regrets that I’m not faster, too, and is always working on ways to rush the process, too.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from others who’ve gone through this same thing, and to know your thoughts on same.

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