Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's your speed?

I've never understood writers who could crank out 40k+ words in like...a month. Yeah, I'm looking at you NaNo Nerds! How do you do it? Chug down a pack of Four Loko drinks in one sitting?! 

I've been around the writing circuit for a while and I believe there are three kinds of writers when we're talking about speed. 

1. The Technicians: These guys are the ones like Stephen King. They set aside a daily word count and find the time to crank it out on paper. These writers are the planners. They can plod through an entire 70k novel in like...two months and who successfully finish NaNoWriMo. Technicians are diligent and methodical. They make writing look easy (when it isn't!) and can publish 5 or 6 books in a year while balancing a 9-to-5 job and 3 kids. I am in envy of these people. 

2. The Dreamers: These are the ones who rely on "inspiration" alone to finish their manuscripts. When the mood strikes them, they can sit down and create something. However, because inspiration isn't necessarily a "timed" or "consistent" phenomenon, it can take these writers months...even years to get through a novel. Dreamers can spend 24hrs+ writing feverishly and then go months between projects waiting on their next "muse." I happen to be a Dreamer. When I do sit down to write, I do so for hours at a time--often at the expense of other things, like attending classes, eating, sleeping, or feeding the dog. I once spent 27hrs straight writing a novella. My poor step-mother actually brought food to my room and forced me to eat because I hadn't eaten that day. I was too "juiced up" to think about food or sleep. 

3. The Hobbyists: We all know these writers. These are the ones who hardly ever finish a novel, or who start five or six novels at a time without any real concern to publish any of them. These writers take pleasure in the writing process itself. They write because it gives them something to do. When they get the time, they might write a poem or two...but Hobbyists don't take themselves too seriously and usually don't expect anyone else to either. Their motivation does not stem from compulsion (like the Dreamers) or ambition (like the Technicians) but from recreational pleasure. Some bloggers and fan-fiction writers could fall into this category. 

So which are you? 


Madison Johns said...

I fall into the dreamer category, but like a hobbyist, I start more than one novel with the hopes of working on them at some point.

I wrote 38,000 words in two months once, but then waited until six months before I started writing again. More to do with self doubt than anything else. Screw the critics, I now have 47,000 words into that same novel.

I know there are some best selling authors that only publish two novels a year. The difference between us and them is they have agents and publishing contract already in place.

Stephen King? I really hate his books, sorry, but I do, they're so boring. I have a very limited attention span.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I don't like Stephen King either. I'm convinced he has ghost writers to help him out. There's no earthly way he can crank out so many books by himself...but I could be wrong.

I think most writers fall into the "Dreamer" category with some Hobbyist tendencies.

Thanks for leaving a comment, Madison! :D

Renee Miller said...

I guess I fall somewhere between technician and dreamer. I have written seven novels in two years. Three of those are polished enough to consider publishing. The other five are still what I consider WIP. I can literally type as fast as I think, so 10K in a few hours is nothing. It's not 10K worth keeping, but I can get the general idea out very quickly. The editing takes much longer. Anything written in a month is going to be extremely rough, I don't care if you're Stephen King or not.

I also write for a living, nonfiction, sometimes mind-numbing articles. So I've had to train myself to stop being such a dreamer and buckle down to write. My output with my 'job' writing and my fiction writing is about 5 to 10K a day. Blogs, etc. are extra.

Of course, my day runs from 5am to 11pm and I'd never do NaNo. Scares the shit out of me.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

LOL! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks NaNo is frightening!

I think if my full-time job was to write, I might be able to get more work done. I write "fast" when I actually sit down to write. The problem is, I can never find the time to buckle down and hash it all out. That, or I'm not "inspired" to do so.

I should try writing daily...but meh...I don't think I could do it without wanting to gauge out my eyes with spoons, lol! I guess I need to get over it and just do it, like you said.

Thanks for visiting, Renee! :D

Renee Miller said...

Honestly the first few weeks after I landed my first job writing for a local newspaper I did want to gouge my eyes out and I definitely had no motivation for fiction writing when I finished my 'work day'. It took a lot of willpower to stay away from the interenet, talk shows, and to not answer the phone and allow friends to drag me out for coffee or shopping.

Now, I visit blogs like yours when I'm procrastinating. I don't comment often because then everyone would know how distracted I get. :)

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Aw, thank Renee!

Michan said...

i'm totally a dream/hobbyist. no matter how hard i try, i just can't write unless i'm in the mood for it. *sigh* i'm a slacker...

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