I should do a quick disclaimer here. The definition of “writing fast” will differ depending on who you talk to. So let me offer you my definition of “writing fast” for the sake of this post.
To me, “writing fast” is when an author writes 1-2 books a month. Then they publish those books as quickly as they can. This is called “rapid release”.
I write in the romance genre, and I’ve seen plenty of authors using the rapid release system. They’ll have a new release coming out about twice a month. It seems to be that these are novellas or novelettes. (In romance, 50,000 words is a full-length novel, though I’ve seen some people argue that a full-length novel in romance can be 45,000 words long. Novellas usually hover around the 20,000-30,000 word range. Novelettes are usually around 15,000 words in length.)
The shorter the book, the easier it is to finish it more quickly. This is why so many romances are under the full-length novel word count. This is fine. I see nothing wrong with shorter stories. The horror genre is notorious for short stories, and as long as the author does a good job of telling a satisfying story, all is good. It’s possible to write good quality stories that aren’t full-length. In fact, I would rather read a shorter book that keeps me turning the page than read a longer story that doesn’t.
The other day an author was talking about her plan to do a rapid release schedule. She was planning on a book every other week. She was also planning on spin-off series that would also be quickly written and published. Then she stated out how she was going to promote these books, etc, etc. The further I read into her plan, the more my eyes glazed over. I couldn’t even give you the details of her plan because I couldn’t wrap my mind around all the work she’s going to do. I assume she has an assistant because if she doesn’t, she’s going to burn herself out.
Do I believe it’s possible to write and publish a book every other week? Sure. I’ve seen enough authors do it. If the book is short enough, it’s totally possible.
But the question that keeps going through my mind is this: “Is it WORTH it?”
If an author hits a hot genre, knows how to market effectively, can produce work fast, and knows how to line up all the plot points and character types that are popular within that genre, they can make good money. I’ve heard of too many authors who’ve made “a six-figure income” a year doing this to think otherwise. Obviously, the strategy works.
But again, “Is it WORTH it?”
The answer depends on the author’s goals. If you’re writing to make money, then yes, it is worth it. This is the way to win at making money as a writer.
But what if money isn’t the main motive for writing? What if your main motive is the story itself? What if writing is like taking an enjoyable vacation where you get to stop and check out the sights, sit and talk to good friends, and eat a new, delicious meal? Would you want to rush that experience? For me, every book is a vacation. I don’t feel like I’m truly alive until I’m in the story. That’s not to say I don’t get a lot of enjoyment in real life because I do. Just as there are things you enjoy doing when you’re at home, there are also a lot of fun times you have on vacation. The beauty of the story is that there are no limits. You can go anywhere in any time period with anyone you want. The stuff you can’t do in real life doesn’t apply to the world of fiction.
So while God has blessed me with a great husband, kids, and friends, He’s also blessed me with an imagination that takes me on some of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. Vacations don’t take away your enjoyment of being home; vacations add flavor to the wonderful life you already have. There’s nothing as thrilling as being in the process of writing a story when everything is brand new since the characters take me through the story. I never know exactly where I’ll end up, and that makes things so much fun. And best of all, when I reread the story, I get to relive the great memories.
To me, the downside of writing fast is that the vacation is rushed. There’s not enough time to savor the experience. The more fun I’m having, the more reluctant I am to leave, and this is why some books end up being longer than others. Some books are meant to be shorter, though. Not every vacation is meant to be a long one.
For example, Fairest of Them All was so much fun that I ended up going into a subplot. That book ended up being 86,000 words when all was said and done. It’s one of my favorites. On the other hand, I enjoyed writing Forever Yours (which is 47,000 words long) so much that I had to go back and reread Eye of the Beholder and To Have and To Hold again because I really enjoy seeing the Larson family from Dave and Mary’s point of view. The reason Forever Yours was shorter is probably because it’s Dave and Mary’s third book. Dave and Mary are my favorite Larson couple, and I do feel like the third book completes their story. If you add up all three books, the word count is about 200,000 words. (Eye of the Beholder was about 80,000 words, and To Have and To Hold was about 73,000 words.) So that tells you how much I’ve enjoyed spending time with Dave and Mary. That all said, Forever Yours is their last book. There’s nothing else I can do with them. But I do feel that Forever Yours finally completes their story. One reason I do so many Larson books in general is that they are my favorite family to write about. I enjoy going on vacation to visit them. It’s always nice to run into old friends while meeting new ones.
So anyway, I’ve decided I don’t want to write fast. The rapid release schedule isn’t for me. That means I can’t focus on the money part of writing. This is the shift I made when I decided (almost two years ago now) that I was going to start writing for passion. I’m a lot happier. I’m no longer burned out. I love the stories I’m writing much more. I think what I’m doing these days is some of my best work. Not everyone agrees, of course, but we all have our different tastes.
I’m just going to continue taking my time and enjoying each story as it comes. My primary goal as a writer is to have fun. I want to go on vacations that excite me. Sometimes I want to laugh. Sometimes I want to feel the suspense of wondering what will happen next. Sometimes I want to delve into the heart of difficult topic. But in every vacation, I want to fall in love, and I want the happy ending.
For those of you who continue to join me on my vacations, I thank you. If it weren’t for you guys giving me your support and encouragement along the way, I would have given up a long time ago. There were times I wanted to walk away from it all, but someone would send me a message and remind me of what’s truly important when it comes to writing. You guys are the best!