Friday, January 18, 2013

What Kind of Writer are YOU? (A poll)

Be sure to say that with incredulity and add just a note of disgust on that last word. It's how we all HEAR the question, anyway...

Oh, we're ALL mad here!
But what brings this on?

I've been hanging out over at ABNA... it is what I DO in January after all (besides go hungry). I like to get to know my fellow contestants... there are old friends and new acquaintances... and there are some discussions that cause me to... observe stuff.

Stuff??? You say? What KIND of stuff?

First, before I say anything, I need to shout out the big disqualifier... none of these observations makes one type of writer better or worse. It is ALL just an observation about the different ways we can BE... we are not all alike, much as we are more like each other than we are like non-writer types.

But I notice:

Some writers are so attached to ONE BOOK... Same book entered year after year. And I wonder... do they write other books, or have they just been perfecting THIS book?

This is not unrelated to the 'won't take on the next until this one is published'.

And then there are folks like me, who must seem very short-attention spanned... entering my 4th book in 4 years and year 1 I entered book 1, but this year am entering #10...

What this MEANS, is some writers focus on ONE BOOK until it is totally polished, finished and OUT THERE.

Do you suppose this helps?
OTHERS write a book, set it aside to work on something else, set THAT aside to work on a 3rd thing, then come back to the first thing. Know what I am? I'm a ROTATOR!

Still others work SIMULTANEOUSLY on a couple projects (writing two at once)--now I've done this—back in the day I was writing my first book and still writing fan fiction—but I can't do it anymore, though I CAN write one and polish another.

I've ALSO noticed some people write slow and clean and some people write fast and dirty (this would be me) and some people write slow and dirty, and SOME LUCKY BASTARDS write fast and clean.

And some people dive straight into editing, while others let it sit... Some share parts of their book right away, others wait until the book is done (maybe even edited—here is where I raise my hand again) to share.

So how do YOU do it?

Fast or slow?
Dirty or clean?
One at a time, multiple or rotating?
Can you edit right away, or do you need to set it aside?
Publish or die or do you go on to next project and wait to come back to it?

And to put this all in context:

Do you outline/timeline/ or pants?
How many books have you written?
How many YEARS have you been writing since you got serious?
What genre do you write?


Sean McLachlan said...

Fast and fairly clean.
Edit right away, but I do a better job if I set it aside.
Send it out and work on the next one, life is short.

Mostly pants with a vague outline in my head.
History books: 10
Guidebooks: 2
Novels: 4
Novellas: 4
Short Story Collections 2

All published except for one in edits at my publisher. Most of the fiction under pen names.

Writing 12 years, sometimes I still think I'm not serious enough.


Ted Cross said...

I'm a slow writer. It takes me about three years to finish a book. So I am entering the same fantasy I entered two years ago. I'm about half way done with my WIP, which is a sci-fi thriller.

Jessica Bell said...

One at a time
I edit right away
die and go to next project and maybe self-pub something at the same time

My strategy changes with every book. Depends on my mood.
No. of books: Writing my 7th now.
Years of serious writing: About 8, I think.
Adult contemporary/literary

:-) Quite a funny post, Hart. You have a knack of making me laugh even when I'm not supposed to! Haha.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Slow (350 words per hour) but clean.
One at a time. I would confuse myself otherwise.
Edit right away because by the time I reach the end I've forgotten the beginning.
I guess I'm publish or die, but it worked.
Always outline.
Three, although many older false starts, short stories, and one crappy almost complete.
Science fiction - space opera.

Christopher Allen said...

Great question, Hart! I'm a rotator. I'm letting a couple of novels chill right now. I've been putting off returning to them for a couple of years now. Wow. I really need to get back to them.

Blogger Assistant1 said...

Fast and slightly soiled. Not too dirty. With each book my drafts get better.

I usually have multiple ideas at the same time but try to focus on and finish one.

Need to set it aside, even if just for a day or so.

Publish or die, can't move onto the next in earnest if I'm still picking on the last. It's like cheating.

I'm a pantser turned outliner since I started writing romantic suspense.

5 working on 6.

5 years this year. Wow.

Romantic comedy, romantic suspense/mystery/thriller

Shaharizan Perez said...

1.) Fast or slow? Slow
2.) Dirty or clean? Clean
3.) One at a time, multiple or rotating? One at a time.
4.) Can you edit right away, or do you need to set it aside? I can edit right away.
5.) Publish or die or do you go on to next project and wait to come back to it? I will generally move on to the next project. (I'm not even close to being published and not ready for that stage).

And to put this all in context:

6.) Do you outline/timeline/ or pants? I outline and timeline.
7.) How many books have you written? Does half count? Probably not.
8.) How many YEARS have you been writing since you got serious? Two years serious, two years not so much, starting to get serious again! :D
9.) What genre do you write? Mystery, romance, sci-fi and fantasy.

Hart Johnson said...

I love the variation I'm seeing! I have people answering over at ABNA, too, so there should be some interesting results by next week.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Fast and clean (for this genre only!)
One at a time sometimes, sometimes editing one while drafting another.
Edit immediately because of deadline.
Go straight to next project.
Usually don't outline or make a very bare-bones outline
Have written 11 books, working on 12th.
How many years? That's hard to say. Tried to write novels in '93, but gave up for 7 years, then got serious.
Cozy/traditional mysteries.

Will be interested in reading your results. :)

Alison DeLuca said...

These answers are fascinating!

Well, I'm definitely not fast and clean (eyes backshelf MSS that needs a THIRD COMPLETE REWRITE)

Plus, I'm a series writer at the moment, so after I entered #1 years ago in ABNA, I wanted to finish the series before entering another book. Would feel silly entering #3 out of the blue.

However, I am a few chapters away from the final book in the series, at which point you will hear a series of halloooooos and Huzzahs coming from the central New Jersey region.

Outline, but my characters force me to pants it. They change things willy-nilly and I must try to keep up.

Steampunk now, considering dieselpunk (that's the neglected MSS awaiting the third complete rewrite) which means lot of gorgeous research.

Straight to next project if my 8-year-old lets me. Will begin it while my last MSS "marinates" in prep for self-ed and beta readers.

Oh, I just love to write so much.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I too am a rotator! Actually, my creative mind is a whirling cuisinart with the top off. Like you, Hart, I breathe, therefore I write.

mshatch said...

Slow, I can now write a book in a year and I'm working on #6. I revise as I go and then revise some more. I've pantsted and I've plotted and right now I'm doing a little bit of both.

Good luck with ABNA :)

Southpaw said...

slow but getting faster
dirty but getting cleaner

Jill Haugh said...

I give my heart to one lover...I mean story at a time--I'd forget who whas who and end up with cross-pollinated stories otherwise. (Why does this sound like an STD?) I'm usually good for around fifteen hundred words a session, then I come back the next day and sweep under the counters and get the dust-bunnies out from under the bed. Though, I am a rotator or sorts,since I do find I blog and snog in the morning, catching up with all you fine folk and then after my family and respobsibilities have died down for the day, I put on my cape and bevome my super-hero writing-diva self.
Working on third novel, all unpublished so far. Published short-stories in college and the usual yack. Fairly new to the online networking--which I have to say I LOVE though sometimes I wonder if all of you are real or just a figment of my delusional mind? You've all become characters= in this online-fantasy of mine. Your posts have become your dialogue and I've attributed personas to you and physical appearances (despite the postage stamp gravatars).
You are fast becoming a leading lady to be reckoned with, Hart. After your post on memory, you've become the funny, savvy lady with class and grace, who uses her words and wits to gather her devoted minions--for not unkind purposes, I might add. A splendid hostess, indeed.
~Just Jill

Jill Haugh said...

Sorry for all the typos up there--I have a three-year-old literally pulling on my leg screaming for cottage-cheese! Gahhh! I'm off!

Nate Wilson said...

- Excruciatingly slow
- Somewhat muddied
- I don't cheat on my current WIP
- I already set it aside when I took so long to finish the thing
- Er... I'll let you know if I ever finish the first one

- I outline, then stick a timeline in my pants
- None (but in my head, six)
- I was serious for 3 years, then got distracted for another 3 by getting married and having a kid
- A little from column A, a little from column B

Sarah Ahiers said...

Fast and clean Baby!
One at a time.
Edit right away (though i try to force myself to let it sit for at least a week)
Once i start querying, i start the new project

Written 5 books
2? Maaaybe 3 since i got serious
Fantasy and Horror

L. Diane Wolfe said...

In between on the first two items.
I can write two at once if they are in different genres.
I can edit right away.
I can move on.
I outline, timeline, and create character worksheets.
Published books? Soon to be 7. Overall, maybe a dozen plus hundreds of short stories.
Was YA (or NA) now I'm in non-fiction mode.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, great stuff!!! DATA!!!!!

Stacy Gail said...

*Medium-fast and clean


*I'll edit a ms after it sits for a few days or I get a shift of mental gears that "distances" the project from my mind. I need to get a look at a newly completed ms with "fresh" eyes" to feel confident about my editing

*Move on the the next project IMMEDIATELY

*chapter-by-chapter outline (then sort of ignore it)

*If I include the books I wrote from the age of fourteen, I honestly don't know. Lots. :P

*I tried getting published when I was 16 to mid-twenties, gave up, then started up again in 2010/2011. Again, not sure how to answer this one... :/

*Lots of subgenres in romance. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Hello, Ms. Data :)

I'm a mix of most. Mostly rotating. Mostly dirty and trying to get clean. I edit right away for moving things around into a better order and for pacing and continuity. Otherwise, I let it sit for a little. And I'm a combination timeliner/character sketcher-motivator/pantser. I give them the basics and let them run with it.

I'm currently working on my 6th novel. 12 years with a 3-year break in the middle. I write mystery/suspense/romance.

Johanna Garth said...

This is such a great topic. I've noticed how people get attached to the same book too and I always want to shout MOVE ON!! You're writing will just get better if you do.

As for me. I'm fastish (not as fast as you) and the more I write the cleaner I get. But still dirtier than I'd like to be. How's that for a non-answer!

Matthew MacNish said...

For me, it's different with every book.

Jennee Thompson said...

fast and clean, edit as i go and focus on one at a time but take breaks and jot down all my other ideas and get a jump on those for another time. And I currently have a publishing plan and I hope to stick to it, though I've been know to "cheat my system". I somewhat outline, I wish I were better at it though. I've completed 4 books, probably have 15 in the works, and only one is published. I've been seriously writing for 5 years and I honestly try my hand at every genre. Woo, there were a lot of questions!

Helena said...

I guess I'm a multiple, not very fast, kinda clean, one book at a time but ultimately several manuscripts.

As for publishing -- I'll be putting into print a few manuscripts that I think are good, and I'm greatly relieved that a couple I've written in years past will never see the light of day.

Dana said...

Fabulous topic and discussion, Hart!

Here are my data -

Fast or slow? Relatively fast

Dirty or clean? Are we talking genre, LOL? Oh! Drafts - um, getting cleaner

One at a time, multiple or rotating? *tries to get mind out of the gutter and fails* Multiple

Can you edit right away, or do you need to set it aside? Set aside

Publish or die or do you go on to next project and wait to come back to it? Juggling multiples while trying to sell

And to put this all in context:

Do you outline/timeline/ or pants? Total Pantser, baby!

How many books have you written?
3 novels and 1 novella completed; 3 novels currently in progress

How many YEARS have you been writing since you got serious?
3 1/2 (4+ if you count the fanfic years)

What genre do you write? Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance

Melissa Menten said...

Hi Hart,

"Saw" you over at ABNA. (Pretty much I lurk since I am a newbie, so I feel like I "know" you, but realize you have no clue who I am!)

I am a kind of new author, maybe newly serious. First book,probably a MG novel, written 7 years ago in about 5 months. Sent it out to a few publishers with no response, then life events pushed writing aside for a few years. Wrote about 1/3 of 2nd book, then got too busy. Dusted that off a few months ago intending to finish when I got sidetracked by a new YA idea that I plan to finish by summer. Meanwhile discovered ABNA and entered 1st book in the contest after doing some editing.

So, lately I seem to have become a rotator. Thought I was clean til I started editing(!) Kind of outline because I don't want to accidentally contradict myself within the story, plus mine are fantasies so I have to keep track of the world I create. I tend to write like I read-all the sudden it's 1:00am and I'm bargaining with myself, just til the end of this scene....At least now the kids are old enough to feed themselves when I can't come out of the world my mind is in!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I am a one story at a time writer - I'm not a good enough multi-tasker to be anything else :)

stephen swartz said...

I left my answers on the ABNA thread and I'll be damned if I'm going to copy and paste them all the way over here! :-)

Sue A. Maynard - Author, Carving The Light said...

I think...hmm...I think I write fast, but only because I keep making myself do NaNo when I have an idea. Because otherwise, it just might not get written at all. So I pound out a first draft in a month once in awhile. I wrote my shortest book over the course of several months, and it's not even close to 50K. It just took forever because I couldn't get the words to just teleport from my brain onto the page. The story was there in my head, but actually bothering to write it down was...ridiculous.

So I try to get a first draft done quickly, before my brain wanders on to other things. As a result, I also write really dirty, because if I stop to obsess over everything as I write it, then it'll also never get done.

This year for NaNo was my 4th book, and the 3rd I'd written for that challenge. My first year of ABNA, I entered the book I'd written for NaNo the year before, which was also my first novel. My plan the following year was to write something else entirely - which I did, for NaNo - but I wasn't ready to let my first novel go, so I revised it and re-entered it for my 2nd ABNA. And it did much better, so I'm very glad I went that route!

I'd also written the short book that was too tiny and kid-like to enter into ABNA, so I just self-published it instead, and moved on.

That second full novel I wrote for NaNo still lays untitled and unedited on my computer, but at least one person has read that messy first draft, and liked the story, so I will go back to it someday.

In the meantime, however, I pounded out a third full novel (4th book) this past November, and that is my ABNA entry this year. I was tempted to try again with my first novel, given the new categories this year, but I'd intended to try something completely new for me this year, so I did a quick edit and through this new hat into the ABNA ring this year. I imagine I will just work on it over 2013 and enter a much more polished piece into the 2014 contest, as well, but if I manage to get any feedback to help me in that endeavour, it will have been worth turning in what is essentially a second draft (or first and a half) this year.

What was the question? lol

I'm actually still intending to go back and tinker with my first novel again later, but as far as ABNA goes, I think I got as much out of the contest as I could with that one, aside from winning. Now I am more interested in just getting it out there and making it even better. And possibly writing a script version for film or stage. Once I learn how to write a script, that is.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Fast and dirty. Multiple and show it as I write it. I'm a total plotter planner outline constructor.

Botanist said...

Slow and clean-ish. I like to think it's clean. Other people may choose to disagree :)

One at a time. Or maybe a slow multiple (i.e. start one, let it rest and start another, come back to first two years later...)

Edit, set aside, edit, cry, throw to back of closet, haul out, edit again...

Publish? What's that?

Outline, timeline, whatever it takes to get something coherent sorted out, pants a bit, outline some more... c'mon, you didn't seriously expect a straight answer to that, did you?

1 and 3/4 and 2 halves.

8 years. 8 years. Science fiction.

Jenelle Leanne said...

Love this poll! I need to go through and read the other answers to get a good reading on just how strange I might be... but for now, my own answers:

Of course, these answers will always vary depending on what I'm writing and what all is going on out here in the "real" world. But for the most part


Hmmm... there is always editing that is necessary... editing is never really OVER, but you can stop.

Usually I am working on writing a single novel at a time, while also editing whatever I just finished writing, so I have two different projects at once, but they are different enough tasks that I don't get confused!

Can you edit right away, or do you need to set it aside? Both.

As soon as the editing is done, I move on to the publishing aspect. Everything is going on all at once for me. For example, I published King's Warrior last February, and have spent the past year writing a new book, editing the sequel to King's Warrior and getting it ready to publish this coming Spring. When I am finished with that, I will hopefully be moving on to writing the second book in my new series, while polishing the third book in the King's Warrior quadrilogy and getting it ready for publication.... and so the cycle continues endlessly.

And to put this all in context:

I used to write by the seat of my pants like Han Solo flies through asteroid fields. However, i learned the hard way that such a style means a LOT more work on the back end editing/rewriting. So now I outline and timeline first.

How many books have you written? 5

How many YEARS have you been writing since you got serious? 13 years

What genre do you write? Fantasy and Sci-fi

Laura said...

Fast, Dirty, multiple (sounds great so far :))
let it sit, move on, panster

1 and a bit on and off, chick lit and fantasy...
Man I'm mixed up :)
Interesting post though.
Happy New year and hope you're having fun!
Laura x

Julie Sondra Decker said...

Hee, wow, fun questions. :)

Fast or slow? Whoa, very fast. My record: 155,000 words, 2 weeks.

Dirty or clean? Editorially, very clean. Concept-wise, somewhat clean. And then plenty of tweaking in response to test audience feedback.

One at a time, multiple or rotating? Usually one at a time, but I do have unfinished books that I go back to. I usually have a "primary."

Can you edit right away, or do you need to set it aside? I do both. Usually a bunch of tweaking right after it's written, and then I get rid of it out to test audiences and don't look at it for a while.

Publish or die or do you go on to next project and wait to come back to it? Once I've got one book on a track to actually hit, I can focus on the next one without actually securing that goal. (For example, I have a book on submission through my agent, and am waiting for a publisher to offer, but I've also got a book I'm editing and a book in a contest.)

Do you outline/timeline/ or pants? Total pantsing.

How many books have you written? Books to completion: Nine.

How many YEARS have you been writing since you got serious? I'm not sure how to define serious. I was 18 when I first tried to submit a book for publication, but I probably didn't "really" know what I was doing until I was about 25. So . . . I'll ballpark at ten years.

What genre do you write? Fantasy/SF/Speculative, usually.

j welling said...

Hart -

I write in 1200 word sessions, mostly. That just seems to be the "right" amount for a session for me.

I write very messily in rough drafts. I might even label whole scenes < put this here later>.

I write things in a single stream but jump between stages : one work in progress active, maybe three or four others on ice in some completed stage of editing.

I outline. I'm a plot-first storyteller and so outlines are important.

I have to ice things for at least a month between drafts and edits.

I was serious for four years ending twenty years ago. I've been a hobby writer for the twenty year interim, and I've been serious again since July last.

I've been a publish or die fellow when younger. I'm more concerned with writing well these days.

I write about liars and murderers and murdering liars.

Kas said...

I am a super slow, super messy, super duper scatter-brained writer. :P I have started I think five different novels now, and rotate between which ones I write depending on my mood or motivation.. now if only I could finish one.... Also, I am horrible out outlining because even when I do it, I find that I rarely ever stick to it. (See, messy & scatter-brained).

Also also, just wanted to stop by and say I am officially back in the blogging world! Hopefully I will actually stay caught up with your blog now instead of trying in vain to catch up every few weeks (erm sometimes even months) or so. ;]