Write fast, AJ says.
Write fast, David says.
Write fast, Edmund says.
I have always written fast, Catie says.
Write fast – and be organized – Mindy says.
I’m writing faster, Misty says.
You have deadlines, my editor says. Write fast.
Okay. Got it. I have to write fast. Faster. Fastfastfast, as my Beast might say. And because I’ve always been a plotter, it’s happening. So far this week, I’ve written 20 pages on the next Jane Yellowrock book, this post, and 1200 words on Easy Pickins’ the crossover long-short story or short-novella with CE Murphy, AKA the Catie from above, who used to be part of MW and who I’ve begged to come back. You listening, Catie???
I’m writing fast, with regularity, and it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. I have written fast in the past, mind you, but not with the intensity I have to in order to make all the deadlines due by November 1. In the next six weeks, I have to finish Death’s Rival, the next Jane Yellowrock novel, finish the line edit of Gwen’s novel, His Blood Like Tears, and write a short story for the anthology, An Apple For The Creature, headlined by Charlaine Harris. Then, before March 1, 2012, I have to finish the sixth Jane Yellowrock novel, as yet untitled and unimagined. I have to write 250,000 words, give or take, in the next six months. And for the first time, I’m not worried or frightened at the thought of deadlines. I’m writing fast. The only thing that does worry me is that I might have trouble with the outline for book six. Outlines usually take me a month. To get the books done on time, I have to write an outline in one week. Eek. Okay that one is really more like EeeeeeeeeeeeeK!
I guess it isn’t fair to talk about the advantages of plotting. Either you are a plotter or you are aren’t. And if you aren’t a plotter, you likely have very good reasons for being a pantser. But I have to say, if writers are to survive in this marketplace, they have to write fast. They have to make deadlines. And deadlines are often—not always, but often—non-negotiable. If writers miss deadlines, it looks bad to the editors. It messes up their schedules. It might even move the writer from a good slot in the publishing schedule to a bad one. A missed deadline could, theoretically, get the writer canned. Say, if a writer’s first book didn’t sell through, maybe was a huge flop, then the editor might use an excuse, like a late book, to cancel the contract. I admit that it isn’t common, but it has happened, rarely.
Publshing schedules are not exactly set in stone. Writers get sick, they have emergencies, they have hurricanes or tornadoes or fires or earthquakes and these things get in the way of deadlines. Publishers do try to work around Mother Nature or the status of a writer’s health or the writer’s family’s health. But what they are not so sanguine about is working around a writer not producing because the writer just can’t meet the schedule. That said, Gwen missed a deadline once. By five months. My mystery/thriller editor could have dropped me. Instead she moved my book back. Into a less lovely spot, of course, but she didn’t drop me. I couldn’t complain, could I? No. And I didn’t. I took it like a man. So to speak.
In the old days, a writer could produce one book a year, which left them time to do screenplays, standalones, books in other genres by other names, and other cool stuff. Now we just have to write fast. Most publishers want two books a year from a writer on the fast track. Writers are writing faster these days. We have to.
So. If you unpublished writers out there do get published, you need to be able to evolve into a writer who can write fast. Write faster. Fastfastfast. Just sayin’.
Does that scare you? Does it make you want to run away from the traditional publishing world? I have to admit it used to terrify me. I’m interested in your thoughts on this. And I’ll share my journey over the next six weeks. Send good vibes, or say a prayer for me, okay?