“The Art of Slow Writing,” by Louise DeSalvo is packed with reasons not to rush to publication. Valid but of questionable acceptance in this world of monthly NaNo marathons and self-publishing competition, the author lays out points of reflection she has gleaned from famous writers of old of how to avoid ‘terminal hurriedness.’
Chapter headings hint at her ponderous arguments: Finding Our Own Rhythm, Walking and Inspiration, Process Journal, Writing Rehab, Radical Work Takes Time, Why I’m a Writer Who Cooks, Slow Reading, Waiting for an Answer and The Toughest Choice.
My words come down to the page by exactly opposite methods. Never Cook Unless Absolutely Necessary, Acknowledge the Full Blown Idea, Immediately Outline, Speed Read All How-To Write Books, Give Personality Tests to Your Top Three Characters, Assign Sixteen Different Personality Traits to fill out the Roster, Start the Story Well into the Action, Build Each Scene’s Tension, and then Understand the Ramifications of the Black Moment. Each night read a scene of the outline. Wake up with answers for Place, The Thing That Happens, Character Arcs, and Forward Movement in the Dialogue of the Plot.
Nevertheless education means opening our minds, so I’m ingesting some of the books ideas. Eve Merriam in “A Lazy Thought,” says “It takes a lot/ Of slow / To grow.” Perhaps my work is not significant enough not to rush. Further anecdotes from D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Henry Miller and John Steinbeck, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie encourage slow writing as a way to deal with emotional pitfalls—fears, anxiety, judgment, and self-doubt. They also detail how to live a healthy and productive creative life.
I acknowledge writing is not the same as typing. But do I want to articulate time and slow down my life? Maybe. DeSalvo says, “Most writers expect more from themselves than is humanly possible and this often derails their work.” She insists we cultivate empathy for ourselves because being a writer isn’t easy. For her, “Random, hazy, unclear attempts at meaning often characterize the earliest stages of the creative process.”
Her steps to slow, deliberate clarity include: First, imagining the work; Second, knowing you will have opportunities to get it right; Third, work in stages (writing, revising); Fourth, figure out the structure late in the work; Fifth, fine tune your work; and Sixth, you won’t know your work until late in the process.
For time-management she suggests, limiting your commitments, reserving time to do what matters, using the time when you are most alert, training yourself to stay on task, sculpting your day with priorities (what matters to you), adjusting the way you spend your time, not assuming someone else’s rhythm fits you, and understanding this is a continuing lists of tasks.
Under the Chapter heading, Writing and Real Life, she reiterates, “It helps for a writer to develop a ‘sense of limitless time’ so that whatever happens in life can be attended to.” Sue Grafton is quoted as saying, far more writers would achieve success if they developed their capacity to endure.
I’m in the beginning of the 276-page book and it seems obscene to try to speed read a dissertation on slow writing. I agree with a final directive for writers, “I will dedicate as much time as I must to learn my craft.”
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
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