“In our rush-rush world, if we allow ourselves to slow down our lives and
our writing process, we’ll discover that we’ll connect — or reconnect — with
our most profound work.”
Louise DeSalvo, The Art of Slow Writing
Slow cooking and slow writing: While the ingredients are different, the idea behind them is the same: to create something savory and soul-satisfying by taking the time, making the time, to let flavors or words ripen and reveal themselves. As Louise DeSalvo said so well at a talk about her new book, The Art of Slow Writing, the real goal is to “become our truest, deepest, most authentic writing selves.” And this takes time, intention, invention, revision.
Louise DeSalvo is an award-winning teacher and the author of 17 books, among them, Writing as a Way of Healing. She’s also a zealous “beginning writer,” who’s pursued a lifelong fascination with the writing process of both classic and contemporary authors. In her search for the wellsprings of creativity, she’s studied the early and later drafts of well-known authors, and read their journals, interviews, and letters.
She shares many of her findings in The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. I love reading about how writers write. While writing process varies from writer to writer, I find it inspiring and encouraging to learn that Hemingway rewrote The Old Man and the Sea 19 times or that John Steinbeck spent many years gathering material and reflecting on it before he sat down and penned The Grape of Wrath.
My YA novel is still aborning: It’s my first foray into fiction and when I started, I had a handful of characters and an inciting incident: I’ve had to write my way into my story.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in crafting my novel, it’s that building a world takes time. With every revision, my characters have deepened and my story arc has strengthened. I’m still working my way through some major issues, but I’m doing it at a slow, steady pace. The gift of time is a gift I’m giving myself — and my story. Both of us deserve it, because we’ve earned it — together.
As Louise says in her book, “Finding our way as writers is a daily, ever-changing process.” How true this is! We all want to give our writing the time it deserves. We all need courage and faith in ourselves to plunge into and survive the stages our work goes through as we shape it and reshape it. And we all need the strength to find a new path when our original vision seems to melt away and we’re left with something altogether different.
Slow writing. Sl-o-o-w writing. I like the way this sounds. It reminds me that anything worth doing is worth doing well. And most of the time, this takes time. I remember reading about John Legend’s response when a studio executive worried that his album was taking too long to finish. Legend simply said, “You can’t rush creativity.” Write on!