Writing Tips

#SATurday Confessions of a Slow Writer

I’m a slow writer. There. I said it. I’m a slow writer. (Just for extra measure.)

You see, I used to think I was a fast writer. “I can write a manuscript in four months,” “I wrote that novella in a few days,” “That short story took me an hour.”

Okay. So, I’ve never actually said the last two, but they sound similar to the first one…which I have said. And it isn’t a complete lie. My average speed for writing a manuscript is three months. Ish. But, what I don’t say, what I can’t deny to myself, is that manuscript is not truly written at all. It’s not even close to written. It’s a jargled mess of incomprehensible crap. (And I’m being nice when I say that.)


My first drafts might take me four months, but that’s exactly what they are: first drafts. I almost ALWAYS rewrite my novels two or three times. There’s one in particular I’ve been rewriting since I was 19, but something is just not quite right, so it’s rewrite after rewrite, year after year. And I’m okay with that. Some might say I should abandon it, move on, or simply just turn it in as is, but you know what? That’s just not me. And I like being me, ten rewrites and all.

I’ve learned to accept I go through many phases during a novel-writing episode. It normally starts with a night terror, moves into an out-of-order screenplay, then an in-order screenplay, then a first draft, then a second draft, then a third and fourth draft, and then it’s done!

That, for me, is when my novel is born. Finally. And more often than not, a few years pass between the initial idea and the collection of words sent off to my editor. And I’m okay with that. I am. But don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t always okay with that.

There is a lot of pressure in the industry to be a “fast” writer, to release a new novel every four months, to use less curse words, to have more sex, to avoid clichés, or add romance. There is pressure everywhere—sometimes conflicting pressure—but I think it’s more important to not break under that pressure.

Stand your ground. Be yourself. Write slowly.


Book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, releases in 3 days! 3! You can pre-order at the usual book-loving places, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. If you haven’t had the time to check out the first book, get Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, while it’s FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and spread the Dark to your friends by sharing the opportunity around. ::wink wink::

As a thank you, Clean Teen Publishing still has giveaways going on, including this Goodreads Giveaway for Seconds Before Sunrise, and the CTP Find Your Next Read Facebook Party on August 28. I – along with five other authors – will be giving away all kinds of goodies. I hope to see you there!

Stay Dark and Enjoy This Teaser,



19 thoughts on “#SATurday Confessions of a Slow Writer

  1. That is wonderful advice, Shannon. My writing students should take note! I always say the hard work begins when the first draft is done, but you have to have something to work with—hence the need for that first draft, even if nothing much is left of it by the time you are finished.

    1. Wonderful advice yourself, Caron. 😀 I think the first draft is what writers should worry about (and have fun with)! Then, worry about the other stuff. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Sound advice and a good article. I think 3 months is a fair amount of time to write a novel. And like you say it is only a first draft. It will get chopped and changed afterwards.

  3. I have to admit that I cheat. Takes me 1-2 months to write a first draft and maybe 2 weeks to do an editing run. But this stems from spending months . . . years tinkering with outlines, character bios, location descriptions, and other information in my notebooks. Not to mention I start each day reading the notes of what I’m going to write and think it over in my head during breakfast, biking, and shower. So I do a lot of pre-writing and mental work, which causes me to write with it mostly ready. Then again, I have moments where it still goes off the rails or I lose a day to outside stuff. Eh, everyone works at their own speed and the main goal is that you create a story you’re proud of.

    I like how you mention having an idea that you won’t let go of. This sounds like a really common author problem. That one story you can’t get to where you like it, but you just know the answer is somewhere in your head. Hopefully you achieve that finally rewrite one day.

    1. I definitely get that! I spend a TON of time planning it out before I even begin. I don’t think it’s cheating at all. :] It’s a process.
      Also, thank you for the encouragement toward the novel I just won’t let go! I appreciate that. I’ve heard quite a few opinions, but I know in my gut that I’ll figure it out and that it is worth telling. That novel is actually the one I was doing the fight training with the spoon with last week! I’ve been cracking down on it since finishing November Snow’s rewrite.

      1. I’m actually about to do that with a ‘set’ that routinely gives me headaches. 20-30 heroes that switch in and out with a similar cast of villains. It’s been a 19 book series, a set of individual novels, multiple series, and now I’m just not even sure what to do. Love the characters and their stories, but it won’t fit together cleanly. My newest attempt is to work without my old notes and see what’s still vibrant. Maybe the stuff that didn’t work has faded away. As you said, you have to go by your gut and it’s a process. Just wish there was a Dummy book that explained it. 😀

        I have to chuckle at the spoon fight training. All that time I spent on fencing lessons and gear, but an alternative was sitting in a bowl of ice cream the whole time. I should probably eat that. 🙂

  4. Sounds familiar – four months for a first draft, then at least eight editing! I even have a novel I’ve been trying to write since I was eighteen … Good luck with finally getting yours out into the world 🙂

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