Slow and steady wins the race

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August 27, 2013 by katepadilla

I’m editing one story per day.

That’s it. No more. According to my “boss list,” the spreadsheet that tracks how many stories I have and how many pages/words each story contains, I’ve got 31 stories that need attention. Of those, 18 are already written from the first draft, and just need tweaking. I figure if I spend one day each on those 18 stories and two to three days on new stories, I’ll be done in a few months.

Why not work on more? Why not push through to the end and finish in a few weeks?

In part, it’s difficult for me because of my job. I’m a full-time writer for my local newspaper. I cover education and entertainment and I also write a weekly column, book review and music review. In short, I’m busy.

But also, I don’t want to rush this. I want my book to be good, not just completed. I want to give my stories the time they deserve.

The creative process is not necessarily quick. George Orwell once said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

When you start thinking about time (or word count or page count or other mindless details), you stop thinking about the writing. In my first draft, I stretched out each story as long as it could. I wanted a big, fat book by the end of it all. And you know what I got when I was finished? A big, fat book. But what had I accomplished? I had written stories into novels, and I had often lost the magic I had originally seen. The spark was bogged down by too many descriptions and anecdotes.

This time around, I’m taking my time. I’m editing (or writing, later down the road) my one story, and I’m putting away the book and working on other things. I hope, by the time I’ve finished all 31 of my stories, my book will stand out on its own, proud to have been written. And I will be proud to have written it.

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