Do you write like a tortoise or a hare?

May was a stressful month for me. The fun and excitement of self-publishing my first novel the month before had worn off, and I was hard at work. I spent the month working daily to promote my book in various ways, which is a requirement for all authors, no matter how their books were published.

All that time, I kept reading how important it is to get my next book ready for publication. The gurus say that the secret to great sales for indie authors is to fill a “shelf” with your books. The more books you have to offer, the more your fans will buy.

In traditional publishing, it usually takes at least a year and a half from the time an editor buys your book to the day it hits the bookstore shelves. That means you have a good amount of time to write and polish your next book. Traditional publishing suits a tortoise writer.

I think self-publishing works best for hares. If true, this is bad news for me. I’m a tortoise. I’m writing again. I’m working on the next book. But it will be awhile before it’s ready to publish. I don’t write fast or I should say, I don’t write well fast.

That frustrated me. In fact, I was so stressed, I couldn’t write at all. I thought the problem stemmed from what I was writing, so I switched to something else—something I thought I could write faster. That only made matters worse. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to write that. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to think about publication for a while.

Now, I’m writing what I want to. This new novel will take a while to be publish-ready. Not as long as The Brevity of Roses did, but it will take several months, at least. This time, the hare will win the race. I’m all right with that. I’ll cross the finish line eventually.

Which kind of writer are you … tortoise or hare?

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31 thoughts on “Do you write like a tortoise or a hare?

  1. This is one of the things to be cautious about when going the self publishing route, I think. In the rush to follow up the first book quickly, many writers may publish book 2 before it’s really ready to go out into the world – before it’s been edited and revised enough. Have you heard about authors in this situation?

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    1. With all the advice to hurry, hurry, I can see why that happens, Jacquelin. I’m new to self-publishing, so I really only know one author who published her first a few months before I did. But she has already followed that up with one novella, and has plans to put out another novella and her second novel by the end of the year. She claims not to be a “hare”, but she certainly is when compared to me. 🙂 I haven’t read her novella yet, but I would be shocked if it’s not well done. She’s very professional.

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      1. Okay, Linda, I’ll speak up 😉

        First of all, I’ve been writing for the public eye for over 12 years, so I’ve probably developed some efficiency in my work habits (I do know how to summon my Muse on an almost daily basis). Part of that is that I write and think about my fiction every spare waking moment (which makes me boring not so much fun at cocktail parties! … and also makes me somewhat forgetful in other areas of my life.)

        The novella series character has been kicking around in my head for 5-6 years, so I didn’t just whip that out in a weekend. It took me 6 years to write Demise, and I wrote the first draft of Buried By Debt in 2009 and it won’t be out until the fall of 2011 … the novel that’s coming after that was written in 2008 😉 … so, I think the time required for writing, re-writing does shrink over time (at least for me it has). I think the tools of the craft get integrated into your writing the longer/more you write.

        I agree that rushing out new fiction is ill-advised, and I think those who do will regret it in the long run. On the other hand, some writers possibly have more stamina as well as more free hours and so it seems they’re hurrying, when actually they’re just pounding at that keyboard, wielding that red pen, 8-10 hours a day.

        Didn’t mean to get so preachy, but I don’t want to give the impression I’m working at some super human speed. 😉

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        1. Thanks for correcting my impression, Cathryn. 😉

          Still, when you say the novella character was kicking around in your head I would assume you weren’t actually writing any of the stories down. Were you? I live with my stories for a while (not 5-6 years!) before I start to write, but even then, translating the story in my head to words on the screen is a laborious process. So absolutely you have “developed some efficiency”!!! 🙂

          Clearly, I’m not an efficient writer at all. 😦 I need to make that skill a priority.

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          1. Don’t be hard on yourself! For me, the efficiency happened over time on its own. I don’t think “efficiency” is the goal, it just gets a little smoother, for example, you become acutely aware that you keep using “just” and you don’t need to spend an entire day editing it out. 😉

            I started a story with that character, she just (!!) didn’t seem suited to a novel. Her voice was extremely strong, so that made the story come together more quickly.

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          2. True, Cathryn, writing Brevity was a learning process. I won’t repeat the same mistakes this time — I hope! 🙂 I’m shooting for a 60% faster rate from draft to polished.

            I did read the first few pages of Fatal Cut last night, and as for the strength of Madison Keith’s voice, I agree. And I’m disgustingly envious! 😉

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  2. I’m new here but glad I found this blog. I’m still new at writing and am also a hare at times and a tortoise at others. When it’s creative nonfiction and about myself as others have said, I’m a hare. Editing and rewriting is hard for me and I’m a tortoise. This does seem to be the norm. Thank you for this fun post, Linda, and thank you, Cathryn for commenting on it.

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    1. Welcome, Clar. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Yes, it seems we’re all a bit of both hare and tortoise … tortares or hartoises. I say writers are just fascinating! 🙂

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