Writing “Fast” and Quality

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Writing “Fast” and Quality
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” Carl Sagan

“Seriously, that master class on writing should be mandatory listening to on the first day of every writing class at every college or university. Extremely valuable and inspiring.” Tim Weller, in a comment via email to me re the YouTube vid I livestreamed on Sunday. (grin)

Pretty high praise. Thanks, Tim.

Here’s the Livestream on YouTube

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop by. It was fun.

Writing “Fast” and Quality

In Vin Zandri’s video in today’s Of Interest, Vin talks about his publishing company, Bear Media.

But he also mentions he writes no more words per day than will enable him to maintain quality. I couldn’t agree more.

Papa Hemingway was famous for reading over every manuscript from the beginning (cycling) before he started each day’s writing.

Other writers, including me, cycle back over what we wrote in the previous writing session before reaching the white space and continuing writing.

My readers swear by (not at, grin) my books. The comment I hear from readers most often is that they feel they’re part of the story.

Good. That’s exactly where they should be, and it’s exactly where I want them to be.

I set an annual goal this calendar year of writing 24 novels, two novels per month. If I finish my current novel by March 31, I’ll still be on track for that.

If I don’t finish the current novel by March 31, I’ll be slightly behind the pace, but it’s nothing I can’t make up quickly.

And that includes having taken some time off to write a major new ‘how-to’ on writing: Writing Better Fiction, and more time off to compile the Blackwell Ops Soleada Garcia omnibus collection.

Yet the myth persists even among some other writers that writing “fast” means poor quality.

When I mentioned my writing non-process to one writer who now writes posts for The Kill Zone blog and who churns out two novels per year (and is thought by some to be prolific) actually said to me, “Yes, but I like to turn out QUALITY work.”

Again, my readers love my stories and novels.

So if you were me, who would you listen to? The pundits who say I should slow down, take the time to outline each new novel before I write it and then revise, then shop it around to a critique group and beta readers, and then rewrite and “polish” (I still don’t know what that means) before I finally (finally, finally) publish?

Or would you listen to the readers who say they feel as if they’re in the story with the characters and I should keep it coming?

Okay, first let’s dispel the myth about writing “fast.” I don’t write “fast.” Boom. There it is.

On a good day, I type 1000 to 1200 words per hour. That’s only 17 to 20 words per minute. Figure it out. That leaves a lot of time for sipping coffee or staring off into space.

On days when I turn out 3000 or 4000 or 5000 words, I do so because I spent 3 or 4 or 5 hours in the chair at my writing ‘puter.

So that myth is gone. It isn’t the speed of your typing; it’s the number of hours you’re able or willing to spend in the chair. Period.

Now let’s talk about Quality.

First, I don’t spend all day writing. In fact, I put in a lot more time working now than I did when I had an outside job.

My work now consists of or writing and publishing the Journal (about two hours per day) or other nonfiction things, plus

  • answering emails,
  • creating promo docs for publications,
  • designing and creating book covers,
  • maintaining StoneThread Publilshing,
  • going live on YouTube, etc.

Well, and occasionally doing necessary chores around the house and grounds.

Here’s what I do to ensure quality stories and novels for my readers:

  1. Practice. whenever I’m not busy working or eating or sleeping, I’m writing fiction.
  2. Cycle. I read over what I’ve written to give the characters a chance to add anything I missed. They do that during a brief pause in the action (writing) while I’m gasping for breath from trying to keep up with them.
  3. Practice. When I reach the white space after cycling through what I wrote before, I put more new words on the page.
  4. Learn. Between novels or stories, I read blogs or other writers’ stories and novels and glean what I can. When I find a place where the writer blew me away and I don’t know how s/he did that, I study that section to learn how s/he did it.
  5. Practice. Are you seeing a pattern here? Lather, rinse, repeat.

I also test every other endeavor in my day-to-day life against Scott Carpenter’s WIBBOW rule: Would I Be Better Off Writing.

The answer is usually yes, and I go write. When the answer is no, I do that first, and then I go write.

So if you aren’t yet a fiction writer and you want to be, you can.

I recommend following the steps above. With regard to Step 4, you can learn every aspect of the craft by reading Writing Better Fiction, which is always on sale in ebook or paper at StoneThread Publishing.

If you already write fiction and want to increase your productivity AND THE QUALITY OF YOUR STORIES, I also recommend following the steps above.

This isn’t what you’ll hear from 99+% of the pundits out there, but it’s the truth.

If you want to write quality fiction, all you have to do is take a deep breath, trust yourself and your characters, set aside all the stupid myths, and plunge in.

It really is worth it.

Of Interest

Bear Media Killing it! Very informative. You want to watch and listen to this. Great stuff.

Book Publishing Contracts – Checklist of Deal Terms Or you can self-publish and earn 70 to 80%. Or do direct sales and earn 100%.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1030

Writing of TJ Blackwell: The Origin Story

Day 1…… 6139 words. To date…… 6139
Day 2…… 1781 words. To date…… 7920
Day 3…… 2692 words. To date…… 10612
Day 4…… 3383 words. To date…… 13995
Day 5…… 2575 words. To date…… 16570
Day 6…… 1563 words. To date…… 18133
Day 7…… 2817 words. To date…… 20950

Fiction for March…………………….…. 53716
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 218308
Fiction since October 1………………… 521364
Nonfiction for March…………………… 25670
Nonfiction for 2024……………………… 124860
2024 consumable words……………… 343168

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 5
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 87
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 239
Short story collections………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

If you find this Journal of value, please take a moment to punch the Share button at the bottom of this post. Or you can make a one-time or monthly donation via debit or credit card or PayPal. Donate Here.

6 thoughts on “Writing “Fast” and Quality”

  1. I like how the writer said that like you just sit there hacking at it, not taking it seriously or wanting to give your readers the best experience you can.
    Whether they meant to or not, they come off as arrogant and, in my own experience at least, I’ve found many writers who follow the myths are just that. Arrogant.
    They believe because they write, they’re somehow more ‘intellectual’ than the average man, and every time I meet one, I roll my eyes and run the other way.
    I consider myself reasonably intelligent (sometimes I question it haha, but those are bad days) but I’ve never once thought because I’m an artist/writer that that somehow gives me a special place above the ‘common masses’. I mean…..all we do is make stuff up if we’re writing fiction and (depending on what type of nonfiction you’re writing) retelling historical events or someone’s biography if writing nonfiction. I love what I do, but it makes me neither special or ‘intellectual’. It is just what I love to do. No more, no less.
    As for polish, I hear it tossed around in the screenwriting world a lot and, as much as anyone wants to pretend it is something different, it is just the very last act of rewriting one does on a screenplay. The irony is I’ve read many scripts in their original drafts, before the producers or director asked the writer(s) to go back over it and nearly every time I enjoyed the original script more than the revised version.
    Of course, sometimes changes need to be made based on budget or locations changing, I get that, but a lot of the time they happen because the producer or director thinks THEY know better than the writer and characters, so they tell them to change A, B, or C.
    I do wonder how movies and TV shows would turn out if they used original drafts more. Maybe it would be a bad idea like so many writers and producers fear, but I have a feeling it would be the opposite in many cases, just my two cents.

    • Thanks, Matt.

      That arrogance comes from their sense that writing is some sort of elevated “calling,” as opposed to, as you say, just something you love to do. I keep trying to tell people, writing is no different from doing any other job you love doing: mechanic, plumber, carpenter, cop, lawyer, doctor or whatever.

      And I couldn’t agree more about original drafts. I feel bad for writers who succumb to the myths because they will never know how good the authentic story might have been. They simply didn’t trust themselves enough to find out.

      • I find most of the people who view it as a ‘calling’ tend not to like it much, if at all. They only write for the prestige and because ‘they have something to say’ (whatever that means).
        They praise themselves for being ‘prolific’ while only turning out one or two books a year as you mention, and while I understand in traditional publishing that is the norm, it isn’t prolific at all.
        The pulp writers were prolific. Many self pubbed writers, whether online through sites like AO3 for fanfiction or Amazon for original works, are prolific, but I’d be hard pressed to name a traditionally published writer who is truly prolific in that sense, save for Stephen King and Terry Brooks, two writers I admire greatly.

  2. Quote: churns out two novels per year (and is thought by some to be prolific) actually said to me, “Yes, but I like to turn out QUALITY work.”

    Oh good grief. No idea who it is, but are they full of themselves, or what? It wasn’t more than a few year ago that if you “churned” more than a book every 3-5 years, you were writing garbage. What does that say about that guy?

    I get a real kick out of these “churning every two (or more) years” guys. Keep on “churning”, people. Maybe you’ll finally catch up to the rest of us. Or not. We don’t care.

    • Yep, that was the implication. I laughed, but also felt sorry for her. She’ll never know the wonder.

Comments are closed.