They say not to quit your day job when you become an author. My day job before becoming an author was working in fast food, so it was not a big loss to me.
Lately, I've felt like writing and working in fast food have something in common. In both industries, to make money, you have to be quick. Fast food is just "food" without the word "fast."
I am not a person who likes to be rushed. I like to take my time to do things and do them right. Sometimes I can do things quickly, but overall, I like to take my time.
When I worked at Subway, there was this machine for cutting the tomatoes quickly by hand. You'd stick the tomato in, push the handle down and the tomato would be sliced through instantly. My co-workers would have something like ten tomatoes done in thirty seconds, while I would take a couple of minutes to do the same thing.
The reason for this was because on the tomato machine it had a warning that if any parts of this machine were broken, it was dangerous to use and could slice off your hand. The machine was very broken from the moment I started working there. The blades would swing wildly outside of the machine if you didn't aim it perfectly at the tomato. I took my time slicing tomatoes because I was afraid I would chop my hand off.
My co-workers never chopped their hands off. I am clumsy, so perhaps I am more at risk of this than they were, but the fact is, they took a risk, did things quicker, and accomplished more in the time it took me to accomplish one thing. They had no reservations about calling me slow or mocking me for it, but I refused to risk my fingers for tomatoes.
I viewed them as dangerous and foolish. They viewed me as lazy.
I did this because I wanted to take my time and make sure I did things correctly. Yes, it would probably be fine if I worked fast like they did, but I wanted to feel one hundred percent certain of myself every time I chopped the tomatoes.
They were more business minded. They had checklists that they needed to get through quickly.
We both worked hard at our jobs, we just approached it differently.
There is so much arguing in the writing community about whether it's superior to write fast or slow. People who write quickly believe their books are perfect. They are business minded and know that they need to get things out there as fast as possible to make money. They usually do make more money than the people who write slowly.
But people who write slowly and take their time, don't like to take short cuts. They want to make sure everything is written perfectly. They don't like mistakes being made. They take their time to write things better and let the business aspect take second place.
It's about your personality. It has nothing to do with talent. It has nothing to do with how hard you work.
It's not a jab at anyone if I say that I am writing slowly to make sure I write this story better, to focus on quality instead of quantity. But it is actually a jab when writers insist that their quick work is as good as anything someone wrote slowly created because that's the reason we take our time.
People who eat double cheeseburgers don't worry about whether or not the cheese is all aligned perfectly. They're not thinking about whether there is too much ketchup or not enough. They're not concerned if the bun is toasted slightly more than normal. What they care about is the taste. They want to eat a double cheeseburger and they want to eat it quickly.
So if a fast food worker takes the time to make sure all those details line up perfectly every time, they are going to make less burgers than the person who just slaps it all together. Their burgers will be superior, but the customer isn't going to notice the difference.
The critics might. They might analyze the burgers and notice all the little details, but the average consumer will not. To them, it will all be the same double cheeseburger because it all tastes the same.
I feel like this is true with books as well. No customer is ever going to notice how quickly or slowly it took us to write any book. A critic might, but that doesn't mean you are going to get more sales. Getting books out faster gets you more sales. Just like with fast food and getting double cheeseburgers out to the customers more quickly.
When you write slower, you do write better (not compared to other people, but compared to yourself), but it's not often necessary. Little details matter less than the big picture.
Still, big mistakes happen less often when you write slow.
When I worked in Subway, I was working with a guy one night who was the fastest worker in the place. Everyone always told me to be just like him. He was helping me learn how to cook the tiny kids sandwich buns they used to have.
They came in this giant box where they were all frozen together. We needed to break them apart to be able to defrost and cook them. In the process of breaking them apart, he dropped several on the ground. He picked them up and put them with the rest.
I objected, but he argued with me that we had just mopped and there was no way that these buns that dropped on the ground would hurt anyone. I was wasting time.
None of the customers ever noticed that he dropped them on the ground. None of them got sick. It was indeed faster what he did rather than starting over and making sure we didn't drop any buns on the ground next time. But it didn't feel right to me to give customers food that fell on the ground.
People who write slow do things slowly because the shortcuts don't feel right to them. Whether the shortcuts are okay or not doesn't matter. They won't feel good or proud of a product unless they take their time.
In my marriage, my husband likes to do things quickly. He likes to check things off his list. I like to do things "right" or how I view them as right. I am slower than him at doing things often, I take time to plan them perfectly, but I can sometimes do them better than him because of it.
We've learned from each other. Sometimes I should do things quickly and stop worrying about the tiny water blotch on a dish that went through the dishwasher. Sometimes he should do things slowly, like when it comes to my dogs. Patience with them, doing things slowly and correctly, always gets them to behave more.
If both people who write fast and people who write slow realize that they can learn things from each other and stop defending the way they write constantly, I think we can all improve. There are times when you really need to write something slowly, when that's the only way to get something done correctly. And there are times when writing needs to be sped up. You're taking too much time on the little details and it's cutting into your paycheck.
I don't believe people who write fast make a million mistakes. I don't believe their books are bad, but I do believe if you write slower, you catch more mistakes and make a better quality of book. It's not a jab because thinking this way means I am bad at business. Good marketing is the most important thing when it comes to selling books and making a living. We just have different strengths and weaknesses. Marketing is often a struggle for me, while it might come naturally to someone who writes fast.
I just don't want to hear again that books that are written quickly are just as good as any book written slowly AND they sell more AND the people who write fast are superior in every way. And I don't want to hear again that anyone who writes quickly has no idea what they are doing AND their books are automatically worse than people who write slowly. Try to find ways to appreciate each other instead. Try to find ways to appreciate each other's strength. Stop competing with each other and start learning.