Should I Be Writing Faster?

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by Lev Raphael

I’ve been a member of the same health club for a long time and lots of people there read my Nick Hoffman mysteries set in a college town that might remind them of the town we live in.  No matter when I publish a book in the series, somebody always asks, “So when’s the next one coming out?”

That could happen the same week there’s been a big article in a local paper or a couple of local radio interviews.

And if there’s no news soon about another book due to appear, telling people that I recently published a book doesn’t seem to count.  I get blank stares. The assumption seems to be that I’m lazy.  Writers apparently should be churning out more than one book a year.  Two or three, really.

My publishing schedule has never been regular over 25 years. Some years I haven’t published anything and one year I published three different books (in different genres) just because that’s how the publishers’ schedules worked out, not because I’d actually written three in one year.

My second novel took almost twenty years to finish.  Yes, twenty–while I was writing other books, of course.  That’s because I kept re-thinking and re-conceiving it, starting and stopping, and trying to figure out what exactly its shape should be. I’m glad I did, because The German Money got one of the best reviews of my life. The Washington Post compared me to Kafka, Philip Roth and John le Carré and I was sent on book tours in England and Germany to promote the editions published there.

But some books took me only a year or even as little as six months to finish for various reasons.   So when people ask me “How long does it take you to write a book?” there’s no definite answer.

You can’t explain that to the cheerful guys who call you “Dude!” and ask about your next book while you’re on the way to the showers just wearing a towel and flipflops. Or people who decide to chat with you while you’re sweating on the treadmill.

The majority of folks seem to think that there’s a simple answer to questions about the writing life and that popping out another book can’t be  difficult, since it’s not as if writing is a real job, anyway, right?  :  -)

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Lev Raphael. Lev is the author of Writer’s Block is Bunk and 24 other books in genres from memoir to mystery which you can find at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out more of Lev’s work on his blog, Writing Across Genres.

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13 thoughts on “Should I Be Writing Faster?”

  1. I have one friend in particular who is always asking about my “next book” because he says he has nothing new to read, and I’m hardly a bestseller. Plus I was under deadline to crank out my novella series as fast as possible, so that was pretty much all I did everyday, either editing or writing.

    No matter how fast you churn them out, I’m sure the questions are never going to stop.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Probably. First, readers don’t fully know what goes into putting together a novel; second, it may be human nature to “want” something, especially in our “instant” society, but generating another book is not quite like downloading one. Third, most authors don’t make enough revenue off their books to pay the bills, so they work full time before they even get to writing. These things, however, matter not.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. YES! Books are something very personal. It’s literally taking an idea and bringing it alive, in our own way. So, if it takes a few months, or if it takes YEARS, we do it on our own time. 🙂 I’m sure you’re doing great. The life of a writer comes with constant pressure. Speed is something I struggle with, too. I took a look at your book! I’d be interesting in checking it out! It sounds intriguing

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  3. Lev, You bring up an excellent point. I’ve had readers ask me about the next book, “How many pages will it be? How many chapters? Why can’t you release a book every month or so? If you type faster, then we could have one book a month.”

    I’m not joking. I had those questions at book signings. When I try to explain the process, the response is less than interested in my answer. Still, we need those eager readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In the movie DeLovely, Cole Porter tells a questioning fan that he gets his ideas “from a little Chinese man in Poughkeepsie.” I would love to come up with a set of similarly good-natured yet nonsensical answers to these persistent questions.

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  5. For me writing has many phases and each takes a toll on time. There is the initial creative writing, the editing, the production, the administration (Including the finding of a publisher), the marketing and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your comments sounded like those I found in a Ray Bradbury novel. He said he wrote Farenheight 451 in about a month, (Or maybe it was like 12 days) but it took him 16 years to finish Farewell Summer which was his sequel to Danelion Wine.
    I agree, as I’ve written a series as well.
    It almost supports the idea of writing the entire series and having it published on the same date.
    Great topic!

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  7. The clock can be one of the biggest enemies of the writer. As an editor I see too many people that have rushed to publish. The result being that their submissions are full of errors that would have been edited out on the first pass. As a writer the worst pieces I have written have been as a result tight deadlines.

    Today I consistently gather information and build snippets about subjects that I expect to cover in the near future. The result, I have a dozen or more nearly complete pieces, ready for submission when requested. A shortcut to meeting future deadlines.

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