If It’s THAT Easy, It Probably Ain’t Worth Doing

Lexxx and I had a conversation on the way home last night about writing styles.  Everyone’s style is different.  Everyone writes at a different pace.  Everyone has different levels of ability.

For Example:  I’m not Stephen King, nor will I ever have that level of unbridled talent.  But I’m perfectly okay with that.

The central theme of said conversation was the ability to write with speed.  And while I agree that everyone writes at a different pace because creative juices flow faster for some than others,  I also agree with Lexxx 150% on something else:

If you’re writing fast enough to have four or five novel-length books coming out all within a month of each other, then you can’t possibly be doing all of it right.  I’m very much of the traditional school of thought where a book needs to have a plot, and conflict.

There’s a specific minimum formula to follow:  introductions > beginning conflict > first twist if necessary > huge climax > second twist if necessary > satisfying finish.

And that conflict needs to be strong enough to keep my interest for however many pages the book is.  And if you slack on the plot in favor of things like meaningless smut or fluffy introspection, you’re going to lose me every single time.  I get bored by romance novels that focus on sex rather than characters and conflict.  Short stories and hard-core erotica?  Okay.  Bring on the smut.  But if you expect me to pay $10-$15 for a book, you need to give me something that’s going to keep me coming back until I see those two little words:  THE END.

Personally, and like Lexxx, it takes me a long time to produce a polished, finished product.   Marked took me six months to write, rewrite, and be happy with.  Loki’s Game took me over a year to write, and I’m still not happy with the state it’s in now.  I’m still rewriting it, and we’re moving well into the year-and-a-half mark.

I’m also the type that can’t sit down with that borderline autistic focus and write something straight through for two days without stopping.  I have to take time to contemplate my setting, my characters, and yes, my conflict.  When something happens, I need to know before I commit it to paper how my characters will react, why said thing happens, and what the result will be fifty pages from now.  I need to know if there’s more going on than what I’m looking at right now.  I need to understand if one of my characters is going to suddenly switch roles and stab my hero in the back… and I need to know that long before it happens.

Lexxx said something else last night that really made me think – even Erotic Fiction can be well-written and have a strong story.  The sex can even be a major part of that plot… so long as it has meaning and furthers events, I’m happy to write it all day long.  After she said it, I had to agree… and that’s that churning out twenty stories a year only perpetuates the myth that romance and erotica writers don’t care about what they write.

I would rather write one good book a year than ten sub-part ones.

Granted, some of those people that can kick out four books in a month may be extremely good writers, but to be able to sit down and write 50,000 words in two or three weeks leads me to believe that there’s less character study and more “ooh, shiny!” going on.  Even a great writer is going to make fatal errors if writing too fast.

For me, the general limit of my writing ability is 3-5K words per day.  If I were to capitalize on that, sit down and write every single day without thought or fear that what I was writing was absolute crap, yeah… I could push out 25,000 words in a single work week.  However… my realistic goal hangs out more around the 1,500-2,000 word per day mark, unless I find myself extremely inspired.

And a good portion of the week, I spend working in Hell, so by the time I get home, get my family fed, and sit down to do anything, I’m so tired that I can’t focus.  I end up falling asleep on the couch while Rooster watches Pawn Stars, or I crawl into the bed and throw on a disc of Looney Tunes.  It’s sad, really.

So that being said, a realistic word-count for me in a typical week is less than 5,000.  But again, I do have a big problem that most of the super-fast chicks don’t… I have a real job, and I have a real family.  My one big burst a week is on Thursday nights with Lexxx in what has become our weekly ritual.

Maybe if I was able to write full-time I’d be able to push my work out faster – in fact, I know I would – but until my real world and my dream world intersect, I’m suck with my measly 5K and wondering how they do it.

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2 responses to “If It’s THAT Easy, It Probably Ain’t Worth Doing

  1. If it makes you feel any better, my top speed output on actual fiction these days is usually about 1000 words a sitting, and I’m lucky if I get in three sittings in a week. Like you and Lexx, I live for the day I can write all day long, but until then, I think the most important thing is to keep writing and to write something every day – blog post, revision, letter to editor, whatever. If you can do that, I think that brain muscle stays strong.
    And yeah, I’m deeply suspicious of these people who say, ‘oh yeah, it was a long weekend, so I wrote TWO novels this week. My initial reaction is ‘bullshit you did.’ On reflection, I usually conclude, like y’all, that if they did, those must be some buffarilla awful novels. Like Garp said of his mom’s work in the John Irving novel, ‘That’s not writing, that’s typing.’

  2. 5K is measley? Measley??? Oh, to be able to write 5K in one day. I’m doing good if I crank out 1K a day.:) Actually, you’re moving at a normal speed. Most writers write at your speed.

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