Wednesday, 12 October 2011

IN YOUR OWN SWEET TIME - Malaika Rose Stanley

Do you write fast – or slow?

I have to admit that I am very slow. It’s not because I don’t have a routine or a good work ethic or that I’m an ill-disciplined procrastinator. Whatever else I do, I write (almost) every day and I can work to precise word-counts and meet tight deadlines when I have to. But when I don’t have to, I write slowly.

First, I have to dream my way into a story, carefully feeling my way as I go. Then I have to write a detailed plan – not that I ever stick to it - but just so I have something to refer to if I lose my way. Even when I’ve actually started writing, I edit and re-write my work as I go along – seemingly against the advice of every writing expert on the planet.

They argue – with the indisputable support of a handy mathematician or calculator – that even if your word count is only 500 words a day, at the end of a year, you will have written the first draft of a novel – or two!

Of course, this approach ignores the days spent editing when your word-count ends up as a minus number and the days spent doing research or background reading or publicity or visiting schools or – heaven forbid – playing Scrabble, drinking wine and catching up with friends. As far as I’m concerned though, it all counts.

Am I alone? Surely, I’m not the only person who lives life – and writes - slow.

My latest novel, SKIN DEEP, was published on 1 September 2011 by Tamarind/Random House. The next one will be along in 2013.


Martin said...

Horses for courses. You have to make space for living, too.

Emma Barnes said...

"It’s not because I don’t have a routine or a good work ethic or that I’m an ill-disciplined procrastinator"

Malaika, I wish I could say the same! In my darker moments I fear "ill-disciplined procrastinator" sums me up completely. Only every now and then I get an idea - or a tight deadline - and suddenly I'm on fire!

Ann Turnbull said...

I'm the same, Malaika. I write slowly and edit as I go along. Recently I was forced by circumstances to write about 14,000 words before editing. It simply resulted in a lot more work afterwards, and a lot of anxiety. I think we all have to find our own way.

Laura Harrison said...

Hi Malaika!

I write slow too. Mostly, if i'm thinking up the story as it go's along, then i do it in my own time, so everything the way you think it is.

The most interesting thing for a writer, or just me, is the main people in your story, its good to say to yourself: 'What would she/he think if that happened to them?'

Brillent post x

Lucy Coats said...

I write quick, but I dream slow.I can spend months letting a book bubble away in the cauldron of my mind (at which time I do a great deal of 'creative napping'). But when it wants to come out on the page, I have to get it out as quickly as I can. That's not to say that there aren't lacunae where I stop and take stock and things go slow and dreamy again. Great first post, Malaika. More please!

JO said...

Sometimes writing is like pulling teeth. And other days it flows like water - and the result can be, well sometimes it's rubbish. Life might be easier if there were a more predictable pattern!

Abi Burlingham said...

Hi Malaika. What a lovely post, and lovely to meet a fellow 'Scrabbler' too. I vary how I write, but have a tendancy to splurge, then edit over a period of weeks or months. You are right though, this does tend to lead to heavier editing later. I guess as long as we get there in the end, it's all good isn't it?

Carol said...

Hi Malaika. For me it depends on what I'm writing and where I am in the process. I love the planning stage - creating the beat outline, flinging the index cards on the floor, walking around them, staring at them, grabbing a new card and my thick black pen when an idea flies into my head. It also depends on whether there's a deadline looming. But what I do love is taking my time, because you're right, what seems slow actually ends up saving time. Great blog.

malrostan said...

Thanks for all the comments. Good to hear how other people do it...

Living in our own way and in our own time -
On fire and bubbling in a cauldron
or flowing like water with a tendency to splurge
when an idea flies