Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's not the size of the word count, it's what you do with it

With the industry running on a timeline of "What's next and WHEN?" I think there is this stress that pops up in the back of writers' minds that tells them they need to write, write, write... now, now, now! If you don't write at least X amount of words in X amount of days, this book will never get written. Someone will come out with a similar concept. You'll be lost in a shuffle, forgotten, and this other person has a million books coming out next month! Why can't I do that??

The thing is, when you start thinking about how many words you're writing, and not the words themselves, the quality of work suffers. If we're in such a rush to get somewhere, we forget to enjoy the process that gets us there. It used to take me two weeks to draft a novel, then months and months of editing. It now takes me months and months to draft... but it's because I've learned from those earlier novels. The more time I spend in my characters' world, the better the story is.

Deadlines suck, but they can be moved. Self imposed deadlines certainly can if it benefits your work. That's what I'm shooting for myself...to stop worrying about how many words I get down in a day and concentrate on what those words are doing for my book.

Spell for the day:

Lumos! 

18 comments:

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Good advice, Cassie. (Now remember to listen to it!) ;)

Jolene Perry said...

WELL SAID says the girl who is about to re-write book 3# THIS FALL, lol.

I gotta find a way to keep myself from writing when I should be planning... I just haven't found it yet...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Smart advice, Cassie. Why toss out a bunch of words if revising them will take forever?

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I have spurts of fast writing, but for the most part, my process is slower. However, it makes me hate what I have to revise less, so there's a win.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

You're such a smarty pants...but the nice, soft pj material variety we all love to hang around in.

Annalisa Crawford said...

As a slow writer, I think everyone would benefit from slowing down and matching me - then I'd be able to keep up. Seriously though, quality should always be at the forefront, so I completely agree!

David P. King said...

Awesome. That's been my approach. I'm hoping to step it up a little, though, just to see if I can.

And a Happy New Year to you! :)

Donna Hole said...

Oh Yeah Cassie. Quality vs Quantity, the age old debate.

....dhole

Kyra Lennon said...

Wise words, Cassie!

Suzi said...

and this other person has a million books coming out next month! Why can't I do that??

Ummm. You ARE that other person to some of us. :)

I've found the same thing about the time. I have many stories that I just sat down and wrote and now it takes me longer too. Kinda scared to go back and look at them. Will need major editing.

But it's good it takes longer to writer now cause like you said, those words are so much better. And cutting down on editing time is awesome cause that seems to go on forever!

Carrie-Anne said...

Writers of yore didn't care about "word counts," didn't pre-plan a story around a set number of words. They also didn't freak out if a book ended up very short or very long, if that was the length that naturally unfolded and best worked for the type of book they intended. I know my adult historicals are extremely long by modern industry standards, and I don't care. So many people have forgotten that it's possible to deliberately plan a story at saga-length instead of all of 300 pages.

Beth Thomason said...

As a reader, I like to think that I can tell when an author has rushed through writing a book.

I know there are very successful authors who "lock themselves away and write a book in under a week" but I can tell you, those books, I'm not buying. I can read it in the story line it's being rushed. Fluff is fine sometimes but I much rather read something that makes me question how I think or makes me wonder why an author felt that little piece of detail was necessary and then watch it all come together in the end.

I'm a huge fan of your character development so whatever you're doing, keep doing that. ;)

jamieayres.com said...

Wise words! We all need to find ways to work better, not harder. Because let's face it, most of us can't work any harder than we already are! Cheers to a fruitful 2014!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Better to write a great short work than a long bad one.

Patrick Stahl said...

There are so many different processes. I write at about 500 words per hour, which is below average, but my first draft is pretty much a third draft because I take the time to edit before I let the words transfer from my brain to the page. Editing doesn't take long unless I decide to do a major overhaul. If you can write 2k words per hour and still end up with quality fiction at the end of revisions, so be it. The concept horrifies me, because I could never operate in that manner, but I respect it after the initial "that's bloody too fast" reaction and I realize how silly such a reaction is.

Emily R. King said...

Sound advice, Cassie Mae. I know when I start worrying about word count I lose focus on my story.

Happy 2014!

Chemist Ken said...

I write slowly enough that I no longer worry about deadlines, although in this month's IWSG post I do moan about how unproductive this last year was for me. You're right. Worry about the words and not how quickly they appear on the paper.

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

I totally agree. Until I hit that point where I'm ready to give up. Then I just write as fast as I can to get to the end of the story to ensure I don't give up. It's easier for me to push myself to go back and fix stuff than it is to push myself to write it in the first place (at least in times of discouragement).

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