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Confession of an Author: Prolific Writers

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on November 10, 2014 in Anecdote, Confessions of an Author, Writing |

Confession #9: I hate prolific writers.

Yes, I’m using the word “hate,” a word–you guessed it–I hate (it’s so unimaginative and really when you think about it, rather vague). It seems every other author I’ve ever heard of is a faster writer. Yeah, I know, it’s not a good idea to compare yourself to other writers and their processes or successes because to each his own and everything, but, man, I wish I could just write faster…and that I hadn’t heard of all these other writers who have a million books coming out all the time.

Seriously, my writer friends seem to have books releasing every day. I know about all their new books because I’m constantly hosting them here on this blog and reading their amazing stories. They post about their huge word counts (I’m happy to get a couple hundred words in a day, and I don’t even write every day…not even close to every day) and they do NaNoWriMo and write, write, write. And I love these writer friends of mine, but I hate them too. Why? Because they are so prolific and I am, well, not.

And I know what you’d say to me (because you, my dear blog readers, are a wonderful, supportive group of people). “Katie,” you’d say. “You have a preschooler and a baby, you have your editing, a husband who does housework, and a wonderful, full life.” And I’d say, “Yes, that is all true, and thank you for saying so.”

I do have all these wonderful things in my life, but I only have two published books and one collaborative work on the way, and I want more published books. I want more work to put out there. I want more time to write and when I do have time to write, I want to write more. Bottom line, I want more! “Wah, wah, wah,” right?

Then I feel guilty because there are other writers who are struggling to have anything published, writers who deserve to be published. Because I remember having that kind of wanting before ELIXIR BOUND came out, and that is a whole other kind of longing.

Back on topic, even this blog post feels like it’s taking forever to write. Why can’t my brain just get the words out of my head and onto the page in a manner that doesn’t feel like losing a 100-meter race to a slug? I’m a fast typist, so that’s not the problem. I’m a fast thinker, too. I think part of the problem is howย much I have to think about things before I write them down. My process is part of who I am, not just as a writer but as a person. That’s hard to change.

I have to have a really good sense of what I’m writing before I even begin to put it down on the page. And then when I do start to get it down on the page, it spawns all these other thoughts and ideas that I have to rein my brain in. Wait, I think that means I think too fast, so it’s hard to focus on the writing and just get it on the paper. My brain moves too fast for my fingers. Plus, I’m a deliberate person. I don’t just do things nilly-willy (not saying prolific writers do things this way…only a comment on myself); I need to be ready to do things before I do them. I’m not sure there’s a way to circumnavigate that.

Okay, now I’m thinking out loud on the page, and boy, that’s a scary thought because who knows what will come out next. Let me gather my focus again. I am not a prolific writer and I may never be one because it’s just not the way I work. So all you prolific writers out there, just cut it out already! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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24 Comments

  • You, as we all do, are asking too much of yourself. The more experience you get in real lie, the more ideas will be born. Enjoy your youth and don’t wish it away.

  • Oh Katie, Writer’s Commandment #4: Thou Shalt Not Compare Thy Writing Numbers to Others.

    I suffer from the same thing though, although for me, it’s comparing others sales’ and social media numbers. The thing to remember is that if you have a plan that is working, stick with it no matter how much you want to throw everything out the window.

    You’re doing everything right.

    • Thanks! Too true about not comparing! I even admit to that in the post. I’m actually totally okay with not being as prolific as many of my writer friends. We all have our own processes…it’s fun to poke fun at myself, though.

  • Kai Strand says:

    Katie,

    I hope I’m one of those writers you love to hate. Not that I want you to hate me, but because I’ve worked very hard to step up my game. I think your current life circumstances, young children, wife, homemaker are VERY real and valid. Two of my four kids have moved out and the two that are left are in high school – oh the writing freedom. (You don’t have to wait that long though, don’t worry. Freedom kicks in thru the years) Anyway, I’ve felt – still feel – all the frustrations you feel and I’m going to challenge you to use that to fuel your progress. Channel the frustration out and focus on the goal. Make a five year plan that steps up your productivity in a reasonable manner. One year at a time, so you see progress each year. Write one book/story/blog post with a completely CRAPPY first draft to see how if feels to get out of your head. Then incorporate some of that experience into the next project.

    What you’ve accomplished already is amazing and worthy. And everything improves with practice, but only if you are making some changes. Never forget to have fun on the journey.

    Okay, putting my pom poms away.

    • Thanks for the cheerleading, Kai! And, yes, you are definitely one of those darn prolific writers. ๐Ÿ™‚

      With The Boy starting preschool last week and the baby turning 5 months old yesterday, I’m starting to get into a new schedule. It’s a bit of a work in progress, but I think I’ll be getting some good writing time in.

  • Tammy Lowe says:

    I could have written this post!

    I am not a fast writer at all.

    When I feel bummed, I just remind myself that it took…

    JK Rowling seven years to write the first Harry Potter book.
    Victor Hugo took seventeen years to write Les Miserables.
    Flaubert took 5 years to write Madame Bovary.

    Diana Gabaldon takes about three years for each of her books.

    JRR Tolkien…12 yrs.

    And my favourite book, Jane Eyre, was originally too short. Charlotte Bronte sent it in to the publisher and they rejected it saying if she made it longer, they would be interested. She added the beginning part and the rest is history. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Chin up. Just keep trudging along slowly…like me. โ™ฅ

    • Great list, Tammy! Makes me feel like I’m in good company. A few of my favorite authors are actually not super prolific, but they write amazing books that stay with me long after I read them. Hopefully my readers will feel the same way about my work…when it eventually is ready. Trudging along with you!

  • The grass is always greener, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s totally not a race. For me, I just get so little time to write that I have to crank the words, or it’ll never happen, and somewhere in there I learned to turn off my internal editor so I could just have fun with it. Because, that’s what it’s about, right? Enjoying writing? Or so I tell myself! Now, marketing on the other hand…ugh. Don’t get me started!!

    • Yes, Meradeth! Writing is supposed to be enjoyable…that’s why we got into this whole crazy business, right?! I feel like I’m always growing as a writer, so that means adjusting my writing practices accordingly, but also accepting who I am as a writer as well.

      Marketing…ugh…so hard and time consuming.

  • Leona Pence says:

    Good post, Katie. So many of us can relate to it. What Tammy said made me feel much better. lol

  • Mirka Breen says:

    The only authors I’m aware of churning out voluminous novels in great quantities and rapid succession are those who write genre books, a la romance or formulaic mysteries and series. These come with a set template and the writer only fills in a set word count. This, most certainly, is not what ELIXIR BOUND is. So not need to fret or compare, Katie.

    • I knew you all would comment here and make me feel amazing about my work. Thank you so much, Mirka. Your comments always inspire me and give me confidence in whatever it is I’m yakking on about.

  • I’m right there with ya, sista. We both have little kids and I don’t write everyday (like I should) and I don’t write very much each session (like I should). I only have one book out and I’m trying to write a novella (which is short!) and it’s taking awhile. You are not alone. It’s just important that it gets done eventually.

    • Yup, we certainly are in the same shoes right now, Kimberly! I am making progress, just not as much as I’d like to, but you’re right, it’s getting done. I’ll keep jotting down the ideas as they come. They’ll be there when I’m ready for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I solemnly swear to do my best to slow the heck down ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your process is your process, and it’s really hard to break a writer’s process if you don’t want to break it. But it sounds like you’re frustrated with not being able to write faster, and there are a few things you could try to see if they work for you or not. There’s a great book that people swear by called 2k to 10k that I own and haven’t read yet. It’s only 99ยข so I think it’s worth a shot to look at and see if it could work for you.

    http://www.amazon.com/2k-10k-Writing-Faster-Better-ebook/dp/B009NKXAWS/

    I’ve found that giving myself permission to have a bad first draft, one that I will fix in subsequent drafts once the story is laid out, makes me write faster. I did this after the first two Nogiku books, and that’s how I write a lot faster now. I totally get this feeling though. Even I, and I consider myself a fast writer (I published 4 books last year), am not as fast as some of my friends. I *only* plan on publishing two or three books next year, and that’s less than most of the people I know. I feel ya.

    • No, don’t slow down, S.J.! I need to read the fourth Nogiku book. Seriously, though, thanks for the recommendation and advice. I am actually using a very different process than I’ve ever used with my current WIP and it does seem to be helping the words to come a bit faster. I know part of my problem is focus. I’m having a hard time focusing when I sit down to write. I think in part because my brain is so scattered throughout the day with all the million little things one must do when having very young children. My attention span is pretty that of my oldest…so a three-year-old’s attention span. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m starting to think that we writers, above all else, need to be forgiving with ourselves. I tend to write fast because it lets me get ahead of the self-doubt, so when I’m in a spell of not being able to write quickly (or AT ALL) the guilt creeps in. I try to remember that you can only do so much when life demands a lot from you. You might not be able to crank out those books now, but maybe one day, you will. And for now, you’re doing the best you can. That’s all we can ask of ourselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much for your supportive words, Anna! It is hard to give myself a break and just realize that maybe it’s okay to not be at my most productive word count wise. I think the key for me to feel good about my writing is the frequency with which I’m able to do it (as in not have too many days where I don’t write at all), which also helps to stay in the manuscript and not have to backtrack to figure out where I was with everything. Maybe more chocolate will help! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Jeff Chapman says:

    Thanks, Katie. That was hilarious. Now I know I’m not alone.

  • I admire those with many books out, but not enough to give up all that I get to do when I’m not writing. As Tolkien said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

    • Well stated, Marcia! I, too, would never give up all the wonderful non-writing things in my life. In fact, all those other things I do make me a much better writer because all my life experiences really enrich my writing.

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