by Alissa Lukara
Okay, I have listened to one too many webinars of late about how you can write a book in a weekend. Or two weeks. Or, if you need to tackle, write and polish a book on a deep subject, you will need to take a “really long time” to write that book– 3 months, that is – “part time” of course in between your actual career and life.
Being a good writer, these proselytizers of the faith of “speed writing” insist, does not matter. Any editor, coach or ghost writer can Tidy Bowl clean it up for you.
It’s the attitude this implies. Yuck. Like writing is the necessary mess that the housekeeping staff can clean up.
What matters most, they say, is the boost a book can give to enhance your professional status. And trust us, your career needs that status bolstering.
Or, if you have good or great ideas, if you do have a life’s work you want to share, we, the reading public, need it, can and should benefit from it. And maybe we can. But do we need it now, today, must we have you share it and have your career bolstered by writing the book in two weeks.
Then, there are those in nonfiction arenas, who say you don’t need to have your own ideas. You can slam together a bunch of interviews with experts (Better yet, have them write their own interview about your subject – that way, you don’t even have to come up with questions) and wham, The Book. Brilliant. Borrow other people’s expertise to ratchet up your career.
I am not saying that we could not benefit in any of those instances from your writing a book of your own or other experts’ ideas. I am certain we would. Have. Will continue to do so.
But why does the work it took you a lifetime or multiple years to hone and develop now have to be slammed, jammed into a meaningful book in a weekend or at the most, 3 months?
Muses forbid, what if writing that book about your life’s work should actually take 6 months? A year. Two years. Gulp. 5 or 10 years. What if you could actually breathe and savor (b-o-o-o-o-o, h-i-s-s-s-s-s-s) the process of writing or working with a writing coach? Or angst through the process, but do it anyway?
What if writing is not so much about “getting it out as fast as you possibly can,” about the commerce, about the “productivity?” And that goes if you’re a writer first and foremost in your mind, or even if you are not primarily a writer, but an expert, a teacher, a coach, a speaker?
What would happen if you did “waste” precious moments of time – a lot of them – in daydreaming, in flights of imagination, in staring out your window doing nothing, but being present, waiting for the words to come, facing down the silence, letting it envelop you, opening to the muse, letting go of the reins of big time control, so the writing can write through you? What if you let the process transport and transform you, have its way with you?
What might happen is that the writing that flowed out of you might be about art and timelessness and rhythm, that it might bring forth new ideas, stories, meaning, consciousness that shine forth in those combinations of words, language, character that excite, thrill, dive deep into the heart and soul. You might experience the music of the writer’s voice, the music of written words, of their patterns, of sensory explosions and delights, of poetry. Writing this way has as much to do with transporting, transforming the reader as any ideas or thoughts about speed.
The question I have for you who have fallen for the lure of the write a book in a week or a month is what do you lose, what have you lost when you try to squeeze yourself into that tight little box of “fast writing” your life’s work, your inspired idea for a novel? When you live your writing life conjuring tricks to speed demon your way through the book.
Does it make a difference? Does good writing matter? Does it transform you not only because of “what” it says, but “how.” The latest neuroscience research says, Yes. There’s a fabulous recent article in The New York Times, “Your Brain on Fiction” by Annie Murphy Paul. (Read the full article here)
“Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters,” writes Murphy. “Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.
“Metaphors like ‘The singer had a velvet voice’ and ‘He had leathery hands’ roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like ‘The singer had a pleasing voice’ and ‘He had strong hands,’ did not,” she says. “…Reading great literature…enlarges and improves us as human beings.”
So, what if good writing does matter?
Hey, I am not saying, if you’re not a great writer, don’t write your book. Or have it ghost-written. You have no idea how many “well-known” experts’ books that transform us are ghost-written. I am not saying that if your book is competent and idea-driven that it cannot or will not still have a profound impact.
Or if you do happen to write your book in 3 months that it can’t be great. It does happen. (more on that in Part 2)
But whether you are a writer or an expert writing a book, what would happen if instead of being focused on “how fast,” you instead lived and loved yourself and your creative center by honoring the notion that a book takes as long as it takes. Each book is written in its own time.
What do you think about all this? I want to know. Please share your comments, opinions below. What do you think about the focus on writing a book fast? How long have you been working on a book? Do you care about good writing or are you most interested in the ideas you want to convey?
And….stay tuned for Part 2 of this article in my next blog post. (Oh yeah, one was not enough.)
Are you ready to write your book — no matter how long it takes? Alissa Lukara, the author of the memoir, Riding Grace: A Triumph of the Soul, supports writers to write and complete their books in her online writing workshop, Writing Books that Transform Lives. Find out about the next session that begins June 4th. Early registration ends Thursday, May 31. Meanwhile, find out how writing can change your life by registering here for the free eCourse, Complete Your Book — Transform Your Life: 7 Key Steps on the Writer’s Journey. Registering for it automatically subscribes you to Transformational Writers updates.