Often writers post about how to write faster. However, someone who knows I am a slow writer asked for advice on how to emulate my speed. “Why are you such a slow writer?” he said.
Most writers cite distraction as the primary cause of slowness. Antisocial media together with the daily grind of work and household chores can all swallow up your writing time. But that is too easy. Anyone can do that. You never even have to sit in front of your word processor to never sit in front of your word processor.
The true master can be slow without any distraction whatsoever.
The answer isn’t found in the technology of writing either. Unless you use a quill…and you prepare quills one at a time…plucking each feather from a live fowl after chasing it to exhaustion. Technology is all about speed. It wants to record your thoughts before you ever have them. A bad workman blames his tools. A slow workman cannot depend on his tools for his slowness.
A writer must find his slowness in his own soul.
These are my steps for slow writing.
1) Stare at the blank screen till your mind is empty, and you have become one with the blankness.
2) Try to think of the best sentence ever written. Feel the impossible burden of such a lofty goal.
3) Write sentence. Obsess over every word. Check spelling of every word. Check grammar.
4) Delete line because it isn’t the best line ever.
5) Repeat steps 2-4 till your goal naturally slips to the best line you can write. Then do Step 3 and skip on to Step 6.
6) Reread what you have already written.
7) Write new sentence. Obsess over every word. Check spelling of every word. Check grammar.
8) Reread what you have already written.
9) Compare new line to your old stuff. If it is not as good, delete.
10) Repeat Steps 6-9.
Of course, you may fear that you will still make too much progress. It might take less than a decade to write your book. Don’t panic!
In effect, this is exactly like a painter painting one dot at a time, working across the canvas over and over from the top right hand corner to the bottom left hand corner, obsessing about every detail but never looking at the bigger picture. While each individual part might sparkle, the sum of the parts might be a little wonky. So time to revise. Plenty of opportunity to delete all those perfect sentences and replace them with new lines that you can obsess over!