In Praise of Slow Cooking
At times, there can be a lot of pressure to write novels quickly. Self-imposed pressure, for the most part, when authors, most of whom are in reality hyper-competitive little Hermione Granger Type A's, take a look around and see so many others zipping out three, four or even five or more books a year. Often, that's compounded by a look at our banks statements to create a lot of stress and such the joy from writing.
I have nothing but respect for authors who naturally produce a great volume of great work. From Louis L'Amour to Nora Roberts, there are a rare few who make it look easy and do it oh-so-well. What I'm trying to back away from is the idea that I need to compete on that particular field of battle, that pushing myself to blaze through projects ever-more-speedily is a bright idea. Because sometimes, it's slow cooking that brings out the richest flavors.
I'm not advocating taking three or six or more years on a project or blowing off your deadlines. In my case, I've found I can't sustain the story's momentum if I don't work every, or very nearly every, day, and my slow but steady approach covers a lot of ground. But the time spent walking in a character's footsteps, absorbing the world where she lives, and comprehending the complexities of her life add something irreplaceable to a novel, something that the reader can stop and savor on the page.
It enriches my life, too, as an author. Because when it really comes down to it, do I want to spend most of my time in Deadline Hell or Writing Heaven?
So what about the rest of you? How do you find a balance between idleness and productivity, quantity and quality?