Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Writing at your own pace

Earlier this year, I asked my daughter if she was interested in doing another poetry book with me. She said yes so we got together to brainstorm on a topic. Once a topic was selected, I made a list of things associated with this topic we could write about. She went over the list and said she’d get back to me about it later.

Then, nothing. Weeks passed, then months, and still no word about where she wanted to go with this poetry book. She hadn’t written anything for it, either. I did not want to push her on it, but I was curious about what was up. So I checked in with her to see if she had any thoughts about this book idea. She informed me that she didn’t want to do this particular book anymore, and how about a different topic? I agreed and left it at that. But still, she didn’t write anything for that one, either.

But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t written anything at all. Believe me, this girl has been writing like a madwoman.

In fact, she recently started writing and illustrating a new book. One she is writing at her own pace.

I took note of how Jen was not trying to push herself and rush through the creation of this new book. It really made me stop to think about how so many writers out there are rushing to write their next book and get it out ASAP. They think that they need to hurry, hurry, hurry to get their book Written, Edited and Published right now. This. Very. Minute!

There is this misconception among many new authors that they have to keep churning out books to attract demand. I understand the professional authors able to do such a thing to maintain a demand that already exists, because this is just good business, but unfortunately, a lot of new authors and self-published authors think they need to keep throwing books out there just to keep getting their next book published and get more readers to buy more books. Too often, the quality of their work will suffer and the author frustrated by a lack of sales will experience burnout.

(Side note: Constantly churning out books hoping that it will attract readers when the new author doesn’t really have any will not make their situation any better. While keeping up with the demand for a next book is a good idea for an author, it doesn’t work if there’s no demand. And there won’t be demand unless the author does other things – tours, signings, speaking engagements and radio spots – to build up that demand. This is why many publishers encourage new authors to create a platform before attempting to get a book published. That way, you’ll start off with SOME demand for your book.)

For myself personally, I was not “churning out” books to meet any demand or hope there would be demand for more. I had a goal to get 20 books published by the time I turned 40 – and I met that goal. Now that I have met that goal, I’ve slowed down a bit. I was able to get those books written, edited and OUT THERE because most of them were easy to write (like the poetry and children’s books). Some of them were already written. But now I’ll be tackling the big stuff, some major topics, and I know for a fact I won’t be able to research and write those books so quickly.

This won’t mean I won’t have new books coming out any time soon. I’ve still got novels written up, children’s books waiting for revisions/illustrations and poetry books raring to go. Plus, I have other books already written and submitted that are pending publication.

But I’ll definitely be slowing down with other books. And this situation with my daughter made me realize, you know, taking the writing at your own pace is actually a pretty good idea. You can’t force a good story or a good nonfiction book to be written. You have to allow the story to come out on its own.

I have had this happen with one particular novelette. I tried to write it at a certain time, but that did not happen. My muse froze up. But, months later, the story started to come to me in bits and pieces. I realized I had to take the writing of this story slowly. I could not rush it. I could not force it to come out in entirety, ready for me to put it all on paper. I had to take the story at my own pace. And, by doing so, I know that the story will be better. I’ll be much happier with it and feel more confident that readers will like it.

Nothing will change for my daughter if she takes a little longer to get her next book out there. She will still be an author. She will still be writing her next book. There will still be people out there ready to grab her next book when it comes out. Her next book WILL come out, but in its own time. She needs to write her book at her own pace. She needs to allow her muse to share the next story, the next poem and the next illustration idea when the muse is ready. She knows it’s not a good idea to force the story out for the sake of rushing to get her next book out. She knows that quality is better than quantity. She wants to make sure she writes a damn good story and do so at her own pace.

Giving readers a damn good book to read is more important than just throwing more books at them to read, regardless of how good those books are. Readers expect a good book from you. Don’t let them down.

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