There’s a generally accepted belief among writers that it should take you years, or at least many months, to write a book. The longer you spend writing, the better. I’m a member of many indie writing groups on Facebook (and Indies are the undoubted champions of rapid writing), and at least once a week, a post comes up in my Newsfeed ranting about how quickly some authors are putting out books. The poster can barely fathom putting out a book a year, let alone a book a month. How can these authors call themselves such, when they obviously aren’t taking the time to put out their best work?
I roll my eyes and think, haven’t we already settled this?
Listen, it’s not like I don’t understand. Just a year ago I was one of the nonbelievers, cringing whenever I saw the publication schedules of some of the more prolific writers. They must churn out total drivel, I would think. Not that I would know, because I never read any of their books.
I should also mention that at the time, I was barely writing a hundred words a day, if I wrote at all. I also knew that when I did finish writing, I would spend months re-writing, then editing.
Well, I have seen the light, writer friends, and today I hope to shed a little for you as well. Because the truth is, when done right, writing and publishing quickly improves your craft and makes you a better writer. Don’t believe me? Read on.
Note: None of this is meant as a jab against those who truly don’t have the time or resources to devote to writing. If you have kids, one or more full-time jobs, or something else taking precedence in your life, then that’s understandable.
You get to that million-hour mark faster.
One thing a lot of Indie writers don’t seem to understand is that when an author is putting out a book or month, they’re almost certainly spending more time writing, and spending that time more efficiently. I don’t have any hard or fast numbers, but I’d guess that most writers who balk at putting out a book a month spend, at most, an hour or two writing a week. They probably only write when they feel inspired, and probably believe that the work they produce is of higher quality for it.
Prolific writers write for a set amount of time every day, sometimes eight hours or more. They turn off their phones and unplug the wi-fi router. They get the words out kicking and screaming if they have to.
And guess what? They improve their writing skills at a faster rate. This means they can produce higher and higher quality work in the same time frame with less effort.
Consider the allegory of the pottery teacher who gave two students one year to create the best pot they could. One student spent the entire year working in the same pot, the other made a new pot every day? Who do you think had the best pot at the end of the year? That’s right—the one who made a pot every day. Not only had they mastered the skill, but he could quickly and easily do it again the next day. The other student would have to spend an entire year to get the same results.
You have more finished stories and books under your belt.
Let’s stay on the same pot allegory for a moment. The pot-a-day student also had one more benefit—they had 364 other pots. These pots could be used, given away, or sold. Some might be better than others, but they are all assets—just like the stories and books you write. The more you have, the better. They can be sold on Amazon, sent out to publishers or journals, or given away as reader magnets.
You appease Amazon’s Algorithms and keep readers interested.
According to Chris Fox, author of the Write Faster, Write Smarter series, you should publish a book at least every 90 days to get the best use out of Amazon’s algorithm. 60 days is better than 90, and publishing every 30 days is best of all… but that’s kind of hard to do if you spend years working on a novel.
Note: for more information on the 30, 60, and 90 day Amazon Algorithm cliffs, read Chris Fox’s Write Faster, Writer Smarter books or visit his site, Chrisfoxwrites.com.
On the flip side, readers tend to be even more forgetful—some say you should have your next book out within two weeks to avoid losing reader interest.
It’s easier to edit.
This goes against a common writing maxim which states that you should let a manuscript “rest” before you start revising to get “distance” from it. The recommended resting period is anywhere from a few days to a few months.
However, I think this can be especially harmful. You’re guaranteed to forget things you were going to go back and change, stylistic choices you made (were you spelling color with or without the u?), and you may even have forgotten important elements of the plot.
No matter what, the sooner you edit, the more likely that your vision for the work has changed or been forgotten, meaning you will have a more cohesive vision of the story.
Geez. No wonder some people think writing a book should take a long time!
What do you think? Is writing and publishing quickly worth all these benefits? Let me know in the comments!