Balancing Productivity and Art

This post by David Farland originally appeared on David Farland’s site on 4/21/14.

If you are producing anything—toy dolls, bread, vacuum cleaners, or novels—there are some variables that you have to work with. Ideally, a publisher would like you to bring them in 1) quickly, 2) beautifully written, 3) and at a low price.

If you are producing anything—toy dolls, bread, vacuum cleaners, or novels—there are some variables that you have to work with. Ideally, a publisher would like you to bring them in 1) quickly, 2) beautifully written, 3) and at a low price.

But buyers will almost always be willing to make tradeoffs. Your goal is to provide two of the three. For example, I used to know an editor who handled a series of novels based on a major television series. A couple of times he asked me, “Could you write a novel for me in two weeks? I’ll pay you twice what I normally do for it.” In other words, he wanted a good novel quickly, and he was willing to pay through the nose. He wanted two out of three.

I told him “No” every time. The reason was that I felt that writing a novel that quickly would hurt the quality of my work, and ultimately a sub-standard novel would damage my reputation. In the short term, I might make some good money, but in the long term it would hurt my career. I’d rather write one great novel than ten bad ones. (Besides, I wasn’t a fan of that particular series, so it seemed a distraction.)

Yet more and more, it seems, this career demands that you be productive, that you up your word count. For many writers, that might seem frightening. They might feel that they are being pushed to write too quickly.

 

Click here to read the full post on David Farland’s site.

 

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