(Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland, taken on our recent vacation)
This quote, or quotes similar, are used all over the place: the corporate world, leadership trainings, education, technology, etc. Apparently the founder of the Roman Empire even said “Festina Lente.” “Make haste, slowly.” A reminder to himself to perform duties with a balance of diligence and urgency.
Oh, and Aesop’s fables. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Tortoise and the Hare.
The same philosophy should be applied to writing your novel. Not on the first draft per say, that’s just exploratory, but rather when you get feedback from critique partners, editors, or your agent on your book baby. When you’re working trying to sculpt that probable hot mess of a first draft into something beautiful.
For me personally, I just got some unexpected developmental feedback while in the throes of trying to cut 10,000 words of what I thought was nearly a final draft. By the way, I had cut over 5,000 without even finishing the read-through; pretty much all unnecessary prepositional phrases, dialogue, description. And when I say final draft, I mean I thought for real this time, not like the last four times …
My agent is right. She called out some things my subconscious was quietly nagging me about. But now, I’m not quite back to square one, but I have to take a step back and look at plot … again.
It’s frustrating, but this feedback will push my WIP to be even better. And as much as I want to be done a year ago, I need to take time to breathe, process, think it through, rather than rushing to… Get. It. Done.
I need to free write on her main suggestions, let my brain go crazy processing the ideas, blocking out a scene, writing bits of dialogue, seeing through different characters’ eyes. Then pull the good stuff from that, new potential plot points, and throw them on some sticky notes to make them concrete and, well, movable. Next, I need to toy around with those ideas, expand or change existing scenes or write entirely new scenes. See what happens. Then I need to consult with trusted crit partners and my agent to see if I’m going in the right direction. Or they might have genius ideas.
As much as I want to just be done, I need to take time and space to make sure I do it right. Because writing in the wrong direction just to get it done, only hurts that beautiful thing you’re trying to sculpt. Been there, done that more than once.
Whether you self-publish or attempt the traditional route, you only get one shot to put that book baby out into the world. Well, in traditional route, you get one shot with each agent (or perhaps, if you’re lucky, a Revise & Resubmit) then if you get an agent, you likely get one shot with each publishing house. So that baby needs to be as sparkly and shiny and perfect as possible.
So grab a coffee or a beer ….
And go slow to go fast. Take the time to do it right, whether it’s line edits, processing and applying developmental feedback, or even plotting before you embark on your book baby-venture.
Take the time to sculpt your book baby into the most beautiful creation it can be.