Work in Progress #6: Snails Take Heart!

CNW Bagel ShopI am a hopelessly slow writer. I set aside three to four hours each morning for writing and on a good day, I have one and a half typed pages to show for it. On a bad day, I can have two paragraphs.

I never sit and stare into space. My fingers are always on my keyboard or clicking on various documents on my desktop or rifling through the books and papers in piles all around me. So, why am I so slow?

Believe me, I’ve tried to push myself. I’ve heard all the advice about not obsessing about each and every word. I know I could check my facts later and sometimes (on very rare occasions), I do. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m simply a writer who likes things as right as they can be before I move onto the next paragraph.

I’m constantly reading back from the beginning of the chapter I’m at work on to make sure each paragraph logically flows from the one preceding it. Sometimes I realize I’ve brought in something that I should have laid the groundwork for in an earlier chapter so I go back to that particular chapter and make a note at the top of it. I include sources in brackets at least every paragraph or so. If there are two sources or four sources that weigh in on whatever I’ve just written, I want each and every one in the brackets so that when I revise or when an editor questions me I know where to go to verify.

All of this means that I write very, very slowly. It’s not a free-spirited, joyful, flowing process at this point. But it’s the way I work and the way that works best for me. If you’re a fellow snail and if you identify completely with the process I’ve described above, take heart! It’s bumpy and slow but it seems to work for some of us.