On Tuesday I had the privilege of hearing Victoria Schwab speak about writing, reading, anxiety, life, and everything else. She also signed all my books and it was so great.
As is inevitable, one of the Q&A questions was about writing advice for aspiring authors. There is A LOT of writing advice out there, and sometimes I feel like the last thing anyone needs is more damn advice. But Victoria’s advice (how many more times can I say advice) was a simple, and so overlooked, that it really stuck with me.
For such a simple piece of advice, this really floored me.
I feel like today’s writing environment (at least the one I’ve been exposed to) puts so much pressure on fast output. Look at the success of NaNoWriMo and it’s spin offs. We want lots of words as soon as possible, edits done as soon as possible, sales made as soon as possible. But Victoria suggested forgetting all of that. She talked about writing as though it were cooking – adding ingredients one at a time as you find them in the cupboard (#relatable), sometimes leaving the dish for a while to simmer and deepen, and then finally bringing out the meal that’s been stirred and left and stirred and left, and what you have in front of you is so much heartier and more complex than the single ingredients you started with.
Sometimes we can feel under immense pressure to write more, or write faster. We can see people’s word counts climb and climb and climb, see them produce story after story, idea after idea. And that’s great. But it’s also great to savour the ingredients and the process, to let our ideas simmer into stories, and our stories simmer into even better stories. It’s ok for things to take time. Victoria said that it takes her an average of three years from conception to sending off the final draft of the story. If it only takes you a few months, great. But I’m going to savour this piece of advice. I’m going to stop, linger, enjoy the process of creating, drafting, editing, simmering and improving, and being a writer.
I’m not going to rush.