He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

A Manifesto for Slow Writing

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What is “Slow Writing”?

You’ve probably heard the phrase tossed around for other topics:

  • Slow Food
  • Slow Cinema
  • Slow Fashion
  • Slow Travel

It’s a movement based on Carl Honore’s 2004 book, In Praise of Slowness, which is about the detrimental effects of building an entire culture around the benefits of speed.

These principles about slowness can be transferred to the writing world as well. There are specific areas unique to slow writing that will make us better, wiser, and more fulfilled writers.

Below I’ve written a manifesto for slow writers. I encourage you to read it, and if you agree, sign your name in the comments section below (if you won’t sign it, please say why in the comments).

A Manifesto for Slow Writers

The time for haste is over. Embrace a more authentic way of writing and of being a writer. Despite being in a culture which prizes speed, and despite living in a capitalistic system that craves a production line of books, it is the mission of the slow writer to resist these traps and to cultivate a measured and thoughtful way of creation.

As slow writers, we hereby pledge to:

1. Resist the commercial pressure to pump out manuscripts at breakneck speed. The slow writer takes breaks between books to avoid repetition. They recharge themselves. Think of Marilynne Robinson’s 20 year gap between writing Housekeeping and Gilead. She took that time to educate herself and enrich her mind so that she had an abundance to offer the reader. Everything in the writing industry pushes the writer forward at a quicker and quicker pace, and this machinery must be actively resisted.

2. Know it’s not about the completion of a project but about becoming a certain type of person. The writer is successful if they can attune themselves to a certain kind of consciousness. The project-based method for writing is one that will only end in unhappiness. Slow writing is about being, not completing.

3. Resist the enchantment of the internet. The internet is the fastest machine ever invented. It delivers bursts of dopamine faster than a machine gun. That speed is at odds with cultivating a rich inner life. That is not to say that slow writers can’t use the internet, but only that we have to resist its charms and avoid letting our brain be shaped by rat-a-tat dopamine bursts. The slow writer acknowledges that their best writing will come during periods during which they limit or altogether forego internet usage.

4. Seek to build up the local writing community. With readings, workshops, conferences, writing groups. The slow writer is not placeless. Despite all the innovations of technology, you cannot replace a face-to-face meeting, a sense of community based on close proximity and shared geography. These communities require time to build and time to attend.

5. Practice Slow Reading. The slow reader knows that depth is more important than breadth. Don’t concentrate on how many books you read, concentrate on how deeply you delve into those books, and what you take from them. Every slow reader, no matter what they write, prizes poetry. Poetry reading is the antithesis of speed — it requires you to slow down, and to chew every line and every word.

6. Believe that everything deserves our close attention. David Foster Wallace has written a lot about how attention is one of the essential traits for a writer, and if we’re writing too quickly, we’re not truly paying attention. DFW: “The really important kind of freedom involves attention.” To him, nothing can ever be boring because everything is worth your attention, and close attention will pay dividends on anything you study. The slow writer must nurture a deep sense of thoughtfulness and inquiry.

7. Never network. Networking is based on speed — speed of friendships, as a means to speed up your career. Through an acceleration of relationships with strangers, it’s hoped they can give you an advantage in your career. But this treating people with haste is antithetical to the slow writer creed. The slow writer creates friendships, not networks. Slow writing is about relationships that are non-utilitarian, with both those who can help them and ones who cannot.

8. Create roadblocks for our writing process. For some writers such as Wendell Berry, this means avoiding the all-powerful computer and instead choosing to write in longhand precisely because it is slower. For other writers it means writing on a typewriter because this slows the pace. For other writers it might be using a timer to take regular breaks. Although the methodology can change, the underlying truth remains the same: speed is not the ultimate virtue, and deliberately slowing oneself has innumerable benefits for your writing.

9. Respect language — all its possibilities, history, and connotations. It is the fast writer who uses language in a utilitarian manner. The slow writer prizes the texture of language, and all the richness that creates language. This simply takes time to pay attention to — a living web of linguistic play and innovation doesn’t happen by accident or at race-car speed.

Slow Writing is NOT:

An excuse to dawdle. Slow writing is not laziness. It is not an excuse for why you’ve been working on that manuscript for a decade. It is not a reason to not be diligent. In fact, slow writers often work harder, because they are constantly attending to their work.

An easier route. In almost all cases, moving methodically and thoughtfully through your scenes and your subjects requires much more attention and effort. The slow writer must attend to their writing, to attend to the world and characters, and that requires a great deal of energy.

An invitation to endlessly research. Research can be a bear trap for writers, sucking up thousands of hours that are not spent writing, and some get caught and never escape.

An automatic condemnation of gimmicks like NaNoWriMo. Brief periods of quick writing can be useful tools to jolt one out of a rut or as an educational device, but they should never be confused with thoughtful writing. There is no substitute for care and attention.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Dark for holding a discussion group on this topic at the FFW conference — her thoughts and insights were valuable.

If you believe wholeheartedly in this manifesto, and if you pledge to live according to its principles, please sign your name below in the comments.

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  1. Love this … mostly because it validated my own slow writing method, at a time when there is a lot of pressure to just “get it done” and published, despite the quality. I guess I’m a quality person. I don’t want to put anything out there, with my name on it, that hasn’t been well thought out and well written. This isn’t to say a work has to be perfect before publishing … just something I can be proud of!

  2. What’s interesting about this article is that I was just thinking this morning about how rushed I have felt with my writing projects. First you’ve got to hurry up and write the book, then you’ve got to hurry up and market it to make sure it sells. It’s hurry up, hurry up, hurry up! Well, I’m tired of rushing everything and trying to meet deadlines because the more quickly I try to meet them, the more mistakes I make. Thanks so much for this manifesto, which allows more grace to us writers instead of pushing us to compete with one another.

  3. Thank you for this article. I am currently writing a romance novel that is sexually highly charged. I am almost at the 80,000-word mark and I have deliberately slowed. I do not plot my work, but I am a dedicated panster and I travel the lives of my characters, with twists and turns at every conceivable opportunity. I do use the computer as searching online dictionaries and thesauruses a Godsend. I also play silly games and listen to music. Music is a must-have when I write, as that helps me concentrate and often a character will fill the score perfectly. Once again, thank you for this and all of the advice you give.

    1. I agree, Carla, Music can help set a mood. I am a voracious reader to help my writing. I take notes, look up words I am not familiar with, jot down ideas, examine the style of another writer. Best wishes with your writing.

  4. This article caught my eye becuse retiring from public life and working on my new novel, I found that there was no longer any need to pressurise myself to get certain things done. The first thing to go was the alarm clock. I like silence and I don’t wear a watch…But the most important thing is, I decided to edit as I write, so that when I get to the last period in the book, it is a complete work with no further editing required. I started this novella about three months ago and I’m only half way through, and I’m pleased with the results, for I’ve always maintained, writing is a craft no different to any other art form. Patience and careful consideration is the key to creating the best work you can.

  5. Good ideas here. I write slowly because (1) I think slowly and (2) I want to turn out something that stands a chance of publication. Fast does not mean good.

    1. Taking one’s time makes sense to me, it gives us time to reflect, looking for the right word, the right phrase.
      Thinking and writing slow comes naturally for me I am a Texan. : ) Perhaps it is like a rough draft, we leave it, give it some thought and go back and improve on the work.

  6. It takes me a year to write a short story, and then I have to polish it. I love writing things where style of language is the main focus, along with the story.

  7. I would add another point – Quality not quantity. An that takes slow writing to make sure your words are working well.

  8. Culitivating personal awareness is a golden activity. Being aware of one’s self in all of its connotations allows for a more stable and fulfilling life. And I seriously envy those who can write cogently, richly and informatively to enrich the reader. A truly wonderful gift and talent.

  9. In my belief, every moment is a writing moment. I journal my experience for me to add into my writing. I don’t like rushing, but every minute counts. “Speed” does not really apply to the writing world, so for people to tell you to hurry up will make your work have less quality. It’s about being aggressively patient, and if you give yourself a deadline, you make every moment count. It makes sense to value your work, but also value time. It’s fun to be anticipated when I’m rushed to write: it gets me closer to my goal. However, rushing to get things done will water the work down. I am so open to reading this manifesto, especially since I’m open to learning everything. Sign me up

    Kathryn Oliver

    1. I love the phrase “aggressively patient.” That’s just brilliant. There is always a strong tension between quality and speed, and how often they’re inversely related.

  10. Hallo !

    I think this is the very answer to our problems as writers and human beings and for those who do not hold with evil capitalist philosophy!

    1. Now, now, there is plenty that is fantastic about capitalism. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s lots better than many other economic systems. But that doesn’t mean we can’t critique the flaws, and the commodification of our art is always something to watch out for.

  11. In general, I fully agree. In specific, there are times that I deliberately write as fast as possible (usually on the computer, because it’s faster than handwritten), ans those are the times that I have an idea, and I want to capture it before I lose it. If I try going slow on that, I end up losing it, and can’t recapture it.

    1. Yes! This was my point with the NaNoWriMo. Writing quickly can be very useful as an exercise and as a tool, but the trouble is that so many people end up believing that’s what writing should look like all the time!

      1. I wrote a book during NaNoWriMo in 2014. I’ve been revising ever since but finally sent it to an editor. I wonder how that would have gone if I took my time for the first draft?

        Thanks for a great article.

      2. John, there may be time for speed writing as in Brain Storming. Sometimes the ideas come so fast I must write them down quickly before I forget them. This has helped me with writer’s block. Now speed writing is not a finished product it is just collecting ideas. Then I slowly look over my scribble and let them build into a work of art. : )

      3. Hi Rockey, yes, I think there is a function for speed writing in the universe of slow writing. For instance, I talked about NaNoWriMo above, and how when it’s used as an exercise and confidence-building tool, it can be highly effective.

  12. I wish I had this article to read 10 years ago when I started outlining my first manuscript! I have to say that I get caught up in long hours of research due to the stories I like to write. After almost 10 years of many edits and changes on that manuscript, I’m finally about to be published! While I wait to find out the specifics, I’m working on my next story! Now that I have read this awesome article, I will practice SLOW WRITING and I will NOT get caught up in too many hours of research! In fact, I may try to go to the library and research from actual books and keep the internet for stuff I can’t find in books!

  13. This is most comforting. Helpful and hopeful. Sometimes I quit because I think I’m too slow and often write longhand in a comp book. Never even considered NaNoWriMo; could not see the point. Thank you for clarifying this encompassing societal and social issue, and making this world–including the writing world–just a little bit gentler for me.

  14. Melissa Compton, I read slow so it makes perfect sense to me write slow too, this sounds like the perfect approach to me.

  15. I second (third, fourth…) so many of these comments. I too take a year to write a short story (as I polish away at other more finished ones along the way). I hover between hope and despair although hope always wins because the pleasure in the process itself drives me on. I think the rage and pressure within us to go faster also relates to the urge to be read: to be acknowledged and understood. But first and foremost, we need to be our own best reader, connecting with our truest self in order to ultimately connect with others ‘out there’ who may one day read our work.
    Long live the right word in the right place! Thank you so much, John – I feel less alone – and look forward to reading I Will Shout Your Name – slowly and I am sure with great pleasure!

  16. There is a distinction between writing for pleasure, and writing for profit. Each satisfies their own medium- the one languorously literate , the other crisp and contained. That is the way of things.

      1. Now that is deep. Must not put the cart before the horse. Even with slow writing, I like to set a goal of writing some 2000 words per day. I go back and re-read it over and over again, asking how can I improve this thought, make it more meaningful. Get readers to pause and think about it. That really makes my writing slow good. : ) Thanks John, you are a great help.

  17. Thanks for the encouragement. I have been gradually slowing myself down. The novel I’m working on now I whipped out in two months ten years ago and I immediately sent it out into the world. Surprisingly, I landed an agent quickly, but not knowing the publishing industry very well, I got impatient and self-published. It’s just as well. I’m working on its fourth version now, which will be much better than any that have gone before. And I’m taking it easy, not rushing, and choosing each phrase – each word – carefully.

    1. Love this story. Even with great success, you decided to slow down and take more time. What a fantastic changing of priorities and approach.

  18. I appreciate the idea behind this article. Its not about how quickly, how aggressively you can write. Its the material in which you can create that makes the difference. I’m a wife and mother of two and get little time to myself to actually write. I find that when I finally get the opportunity, what I write is profoundly better than when I try to force myself to. It comes down to effective time management and taking advantage of the moments your brain tells you something.

  19. I think writers need to stop and observe before they can write what they see. Also, the only competition should be within yourself. Last, allowing time and space, to water and tend your words, gives a more beautiful garden for others to appreciate.

  20. I have always charged by the word or the page and never by the hour because my writing process can be very slow. If a 1-page article takes me 20 hours to write, I will not charge more than a 1-page article that only takes me 6 hours to write. My writing process requires the right frame of mind and that can’t be conjured up at will. I’m presently completing a romantic erotica novel that I began 3 years ago. I write a chapter on the computer, then I read and re-read it on the screen, and make changes. Then I print it up and re-read it on paper (inevitably finding all kinds of things I didn’t notice on the laptop screen), mark up the paper, apply all the changes, and repeat the process. It’s laborious but thorough. And whenever I skip a step to hurry and finish, I regret it. God bless this manifesto.

    1. Love this process that deliberately slows you down. It’s a great idea to switch between print and the screen and back again.

  21. Joslyn Carter.

    I agree with Lyle. Faster books aren’t better books. I think that writing is better when it’s well thought out. That’s not something you can do overnight. I’ve done my best edits when I’ve taken a step back from my work and read it tho see whay I’ve left out and what can be better.

  22. As I get older, there’s an underlying sense of urgency to be acknowledged, to be published, and to be accepted amongst my peers is always present but, I have found that ‘pen to paper’ works best for me because it slows me down. It’s in that ‘slowness’ that allows the right word to evolve within a sentence, a short story, or novel. I was the first person to purchase a recently published book by my sister and I couldn’t believe that a publisher would actually print something so atrocious in regards to sentence structure, punctuation, and form. It reads like a rough draft that was never edited. I won’t ever hurry through whatever I am writing or submitting just because of a time constraint that I have put on myself.

  23. Wow, I find this article and the whole concept of writing slow absolutely wonderful. When I first started out taking writing courses 27 years ago, the advice given was that once you get your first work published, you have to pump out more work fast or your publisher will drop you and your reputation will be destroyed and you’ll never publish again. As a very new mother who went on to have six children, I knew I could never write fast enough to keep a publisher happy as my husband and children came first. So this article gives permission to write slow but still write. Awesome. Count me in. Totally. Thank you, John! Wish I’d heard this advice 27 years ago, I may not have kept my foot on the brake for so long.

  24. I am a novice and writing is new to me. The advice given quality first and speed second is the right action to take.

  25. Yes, still have the original hand-written version of all three of my published books, and the fourth in process…going on six years on this one! I agree with the manifesto, in principle, but must confess, part of me longs to be churning and earning!

  26. Claire C.

    Cannot agree more. Felt an incredible pressure to produce work after graduating from art school two years ago. I remember being told before I left; ‘people will only take notice of you after art school if you continue producing work and exhibiting within the first three years after’. All sorts of obstacles have gotten in my way to completing work within this three year deadline. Then, I guess, the question arises – do people disregard art that they enjoy because it’s not within those 3 years? I highly doubt so. People ask me now what I’m doing, and I inform that I’m keeping a writing journal (have done since 2015) and will collect my writings, be it poetry or short stories, and produce a titled piece next year. ‘You’re doing that for a year?!’ they say. Yes, yes I am. I take much more enjoyment in doing things when I can take my time with it. I’m no novelist but I even find myself rereading and editing works I publicly published 4 years ago – which I publicly published in haste.

  27. I am in the thinking and mulling over stage of converting a hobby to a business platform and it is a wild ride between horses at a gallop and burros at a speed less than a slow walk, in terms of steps to take, and genres to explore, and a comfort zone to reach. I want an elixir that will work its magic and create it all for me now, now now, but truth to tell, the slow walk is easier on my nerves, and I am easier with the people who live with and around me. All in good time is my mantra

  28. Thank you for this fascinating and inspiring article, and i agree with it despite the following confessions! I read quickly – but re-read my favourites over and over, in order to notice something new as well as revel in the familiar, and to linger on particular phrases and savour them. I write fairly quickly – but it’s always longhand, and I find that 500 words in a day is about my upper limit, plus there are long periods where I have no time to write (literally: full time teacher, long drive to and from work, part-time research student). I recently completed a novella I started in the 1970s, and found immense satisfaction in finally discovering what happened. It would be wonderful to be able to live life at a slower pace, and I am sure that my creativity would flourish if I had time to let the thoughts surface naturally. (Why am I posting a comment here? Shouldn’t I be doing something else? Whoa, slow down!)

  29. Hi there! This process seems like an amazing way to just slow everything down and think for a moment. I’m not much of an author, but I think it would be intriguing to try this. Thank you for the idea!

  30. So glad I took a minute to read this article. I am both a slow reader and a slow writer because I like to savor the parts I’m reading, and not just skim through and get the basic content. I want to receive the feeling of the passage. And it’s the way I want to write so that my readers will also take the time to savor what I have written.

    As for research, it is something that I find interesting and educational and it does at times feel like I should be writing instead, but the purpose is to write well and that means you must research well and if it takes time to do research before you can write well, (rather than write fast) that is the product I want my name attached to.
    I do commit to slow writing.
    Sincerely, Michael Keaton

  31. I’ve always read slo so. At a very young age I noticed my sister could recite everything she read and I could not. However, I slowly evolved to recognizez that although I couldn’t remember word for word much of anything I read that I actually found something had happened inside me and I lliked that feeling of companionship. I was just a kid discovering that realization. Through the years myself’s companionship has enjoyed that “something that happens inside me’ and more recently my writing reflects that ‘something that happened inside me’. Do I dare say? Yep.

  32. Yes, yes and yes! Beautiful composition with insights so important and oh so true! I’ve been in a observe, ponder, observe, write, repeat mode and it’s deliciously satisfying and productive in a more meaningful way. I agree with your point–the deeper you go, the deeper you give, and that carefully cultivated depth makes great literature that can be transforming both for the writer and the reader. I just read a precious and inspiring children’s book, BE STILL, LIFE by Ohara Hale which speaks to this very issue as it’s applied to daily living. How wonderful to share such important wisdom in such a lovely way! It’s that level of quality that I strive for in my writing, and will hopefully achieve through slow and thoughtful progress. Thank you for this post, John!

  33. Hi there great article and sound advice. The world is too fast these days, slowing down is definitely something we should be doing more of, especially in our writing.

  34. Although I understand what you are trying to convey by using the word “slow,” I think your intent is better expressed by the word “careful.” Sometimes an idea comes in a great burst of mental energy that gets quickly expressed on the page. It may then be carefully/thoughtfully combed and edited. Slow implies speed; careful implies thoughtfulness. I think you are aiming to achieve thoughtfulness.

    1. Yes, the editing process often feels slower than the writing process. And in the original conception of the slow movement, I think carefulness is definitely prized.

      Thanks for your thoughts on precise language.

  35. Thank goodness. Watching other writers churn out almost a book a month has made me very depressed. I ponder, I write, I ponder some more, rewrite and repeat.

  36. YES. I’ve taken note of late that the books I have most enjoyed, from writers whose work I respect, have been spaced out over time. Their lives have evolved. Their writing styles have evolved as well. For example, take Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones (1998) followed by Dew Breaker (2004) and Brother, I’m Dying (2007) after that. That’s three books in a nearly ten year span, each remarkable in its own right, each drawing from something that moved the author at the point in her life. I’m not putting myself on the level of an Edwidge Danticat. But I am tracking quite closely with the pace of her production.

    1. Hi Jedah, Yes, I love Danticat. And this is an excellent example of her pacing.

      Also, I think of other authors like Franzen and Eugenides who take a decade for a single book.

  37. My sentiments exactly. As an older writer, I intend for my words to endure for future generations. Slow, deliberate writing helps deliver a lasting, memorable set of ideas in a digestible succession of “bites,”

  38. I have never been able to write any other way because I absolutely love words, sentences and all the wonderful things they can do when they have been put together in a particular way. I was so happy to discover this topic this morning. I have read a lot of Chekov in my life and if you read him slowly he is another wonderful surprise.

  39. A man sitting in his living room one afternoon hears a scratching sound at his door. He opens it and sees a large snail sitting there looking at him expectantly. He says to himself, “A snail! Ugh!” and kicks the snail down the entire block and slams the door shut. Two weeks later he hears a scratching sound at his door. He opens it and there’s the snail again. “What the fuck was that all about?” says the snail.
    It turns out the snail was an innocent writer of long novels about the joys of eating cabbage leaves, just there doing a little research. “The Cabbage Chronicles,” as the novels were called, had a long history of rejections. But snails know the art of patience.

  40. It takes me a long time to let a story ‘cook’ in my head. Months spent dreaming with my characters, seeing them in action, watching them, long before I put a word on a page. Making them whole people is worth waiting for.

  41. Ha ha! I’ve been writing a memoir for 7 years….is that slow enough? I completed the book within a year, then rewrote for the next six! As a memoir workshop leader, one that nurtured and saw every student of mine complete one or two memoirs within two years, I wanted to write mine in order to find out what challenges all memoir writers face. I achieved that knowledge and experienced all the angst, shame, reject, exhilaration, insight–all the emotional peaks and valleys that go with that journey up that mountain. I learned to structure, not just one structure but tried on several via John Truby class, the hero’s journey etc. And I did reach and withdraw from the project; sometimes withdrawing for nearly a year at a time. However, now I have a new intention for this writing. Include only what strikes me in the heart, mind, intellect, body–that pleases me, that rocks me and eliminate or diminish the rest. Then send to readers–three at least–male and two females. Not family members! Thank you for this and your generosity of spirit and knowledge. Susan Stroh

  42. Reading this article has actually boosted my confidence for writing. I have self-published five children’s books in the last four years. The one I’ve just completed (a middle-grade novel) has taken me three years to complete and I convinced myself that my progress was/is far too slow. I already do some of the things mentioned in the article, like writing in longhand and taking time thinking out ideas. I am naturally slow because it’s the only way I feel I have achieved something to the best of my ability.
    A great article. Thank you

  43. I’m glad we writers and readers who take the time to think and consider, who find the nuance and multiple meanings are not alone.

  44. I’m still doing the 5th rewrite on my first book. I finished it and let it sit for 5 years because trying to decide on and figure out the publishing process was too much. Now I am finally ready to bring it to completion and published.
    Yes I agree to the Manifesto.

  45. Six years in, working on the second draft of my first book, I appreciated this article. As people have found out about my book, and it’s storyline, they have pressured me to hurry and finish it so they can read it. Sometimes I feel like I need to speed up to meet demand, but then I risk ruining my book, so I stay loyal to my writing. I am glad to know it’s okay.

  46. What a refreshing and oh so important message for writers to encourage quality creative thought and art over pressured product. Thanks for this, John!

  47. The second one really hits home: “The writer is successful if they can attune themselves to a certain kind of consciousness. ” I’ve always felt this: writing brings me into a state of more awareness and works uplifting, vague as this may sound. Thank you for sharing!

  48. I agree with the manifesto. I have a challenge with the internet because notifications come in constantly, l
    Interrupting flow. But I use a connection to the cloud for my backup as I write and edit.theres probably a quick fix for this, but my tech skills are patchy at best.
    Suggestions are welcome.

  49. I had actually begun to think that slow writing was long dead, that no one wanted to read anything that required thought and consideration. Love you to pieces for posting this, and all those who took the time to leave comments. You’ve made my day/week/year. Thank you all.

    1. Thanks, Maggie! Glad it struck a chord with you, and yes — the Bookfox community of writers is filled with a whole lotta awesome folks. Happy slow writing …

  50. Hello – I definitely qualify as a slow writer, having started the novel in process back in 2007. It has taken me this long to truly grow into it, and it is much richer for the “delay.” I wholeheartedly sign the manifesto!

  51. I’ve read so much the importance of churning out book after book at ridiculous speeds – 1 book a month, a series every 3 months, and so on. I understand the financial concept of a large backlist but really, can a novel written, edited, rewritten, and published in 1 month be very good? Are steps getting skipped or are others just that good? I’m certainly not and it’s easy to get discouraged when you read the so-called success stories of these “book mill”-type writers. I appreciate that there’s a place for us methodical writers. Thanks for the encouragement. Tara Hathcock

  52. Thank you for this! It resonated with me on so many levels, especially #1, 2, and 5. I always look at everyone else churning out books and worry I could never keep up with that pace and be artistically satisfied or true to myself. I’ve always been on Team Slow — now I can celebrate that and wear it as a badge of honor!

  53. Thanks for this excellent article.

    The pace of writing for me evolves and changes based on many factors. Sometimes a marathon. Sometimes a sprint. Perhaps it’s the topic or the need to deal with the rest of life while writing. But when I find the “write” pace it is wonderful. If slow and steady works – choose it.

    Charley Best

  54. It is too easy to write fast glib words. It doesn’t speed up your writing, because in the end they all have to be rewritten. When I begin composing I always start in a notebook. I deliberately slow myself down. I write the initial 100-200 words by hand because it sets the right tone. My voice is much stronger. Then I type those words up and continue in the same vein typing. The work proceeds rapidly then. This only takes about half an hour, but the results are so much more satisfying and it gets me into the right meditative state or trance.

  55. Slow writing. I am extremely slow to develop and complete a story. I never have written with even the thought of publishing until this year when I published my first small book, KITE and other Short Stories of New Mexico (please feel free to remove this if it violates a standard), most of which were begun ten years ago. I am only now completing stories I started 12 to 15 years ago. I have also found that slow writing occurs mostly in my mind and that once an idea has been formulated it often flows quickly, followed by another period of introspection. I have rarely “completed” a story of 15 to 20 pp in less than a month. On top of that, I am NOT a marketer. I have no website or FB author page. Heck, I am so slow that I haven’t even completed a page on Amazon or BookBaby and my book came out in June.

  56. Well stated, especially your thoughts on the trap that is the internet. And I concur. We’re too much about speed and productivity and too little about saying what we have to say well.

  57. It has been said that “ Haste Makes Waste”. I agree with this, and hence the Manifesto forSlow Writing.
    Well said Mr. Fox!

  58. I was thrilled to find this in my inbox this morning! I am a slow writer. I just have a need to make sure I am getting it right. If I rush I don’t like what I accomplish…my story feels rushed if I rush. So you can add me to the list.
    Taking a forced break from writing at the moment due to having a total knee replacement. Pain meds make it difficult to concentrate and stay on task, but starting to feel inspired again. Won’t be long before I’m back writing. Thanks for the post Mr. Fox!

  59. I’m writing my latest novel from a contemplative place – and yes it’s unfolding in its own time. I’m writing slowly. It’s extraordinary the threads that become connected from deeper places within myself Thank you Mr. Fox for your encouragement.

  60. After years of dreaming and failed starts, I finally sat down and completed writing my first novel in 2012. I know better than to expect wealth from it. The whole purpose is to express and explore ideas; to have people read those ideas and think about them. It took me eight months to write the first draft. It isn’t published yet, but it will be.

  61. I enjoy taking my time and making full development of the ideas and getting the ideas recorded with a great deal of detail so I can go back through it and understand the original impetus.

  62. I’m in. Love the concept and glad I have found one that suits my style. You allow things to cook. You are allowed to review and change. For me it’s normal.

  63. I’m a journalist (editor), so at work I’m often moving at breakneck speed. But I like to take my time when I’m writing fiction. It’s nice to find like-minded people here.

  64. I totally agree. I’m a slow writer, as much to do with procrastination as anything, but that is not always a bad thing. We need to allow our brain juices to work. To be creative takes time. It’s not a process that can be rushed. Well done and keep up the good work.

  65. Thank you for creating the distinction between hasty writing and slow writing. I will take on the slow writing path!

  66. The only thing I would take exception to is the typewriter. Writing in longhand comes in handy when you have an idea and need to get it down before it disappears and you’re not near a computer (when you’re in bed for instance). But what’s the difference between typing on a typewriter and typing on a computer? Besides, by the time you get the typewriter out of the attic, and line up the paper properly, and make sure the ink hasn’t dried out, and if it has dried out, find a new cartridge, the idea is gone.

    How many people have typewriters these days anyway?

  67. Chris Sutherland

    “…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”
    Robert Frost

  68. I cannot sign this, though I do find a truth to it. I am at the planning stage of my first try at writing a novel. I dare not commit to a process or to limitations of the process of writing.
    I do promise to give Slow Writing an honest try.

  69. Slow writing is where I live. But in the always-on-demand world we live in, I felt I could never keep up. I asked someone once if they wanted their story to be well-written or simply written fast. Happily, the person replied, well-written. They were more interested in a well though out story, than one cranked out with the speed now demanded of writers. From Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key to the Louise DeSalvo book mentioned above, I’m delighted to count myself a slow writer and sign this manifesto in support.

  70. Writing has become a very important part of my life. No, obviously its not vital to my very existence. But its the only time I truly feel calm. However, I have had a few small road blocks in writing. One of them is that I’ve had less and less time to write. I worry that my writing will get worse if I don’t work on it enough, or that it will just come to a stop entirely. This manifesto helped me realize something. If writing is truly important to me, I need to MAKE time to do it. I need to give it all I have, but I need to do so while having patience with myself and my slow writing progress. After all, getting along slowly is better than not at all. I will get there. I just wanted to express my appreciation for your posts. You’ve given me so much advice and inspiration to write. Your techniques are brilliant, and I’ve learned loads and written more than loads because of it.

  71. Thank God for the acceptability of slow writing. I’ve been writing a memoir for 11 years since my wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, with all the everchanging good and bad times, finally arriving to a positive point that’s a good stopping place. Emphasis on the right mindset, enjoying small meaningful moments, and accepting realistic outcomes could never have been observed (and appreciated) without the time to reflect over the years. Some books just take time to develop the whole story to make it meaningful.

  72. We live in such a rush, rush, deadline world – slowing down can be scary. I love this. Bringing the practice of mindfulness to our creativity. (But giving up the Internet – that’s going to be hard!!!!) 😉

  73. Yes, take your time … well, take yours, not mine 🙂
    i took a LOT of time researching “Ibsen and Hitler” (NY: Carroll & Graf, 2006) because there were a lot of hidden facts out there, reposing in some very deep strata. This was textual archaeology. Every textual artifact needed time to uncover and process. Finally, click click click, the pieces assembled themselves. Ecclesiastes: There’s a time to ponder and a time to speed up.

  74. I really loved this article. I’ve been finding it important to let my characters marinate within me so that I can learn more about them. This is so helpful. Thank you for this!

  75. I’m a slow writer. The story can get moving but where it’s going to end up is essentially unknown. The idea behind the process. The finish will be wherever the characters and tone and rthym of the piece decide it to be.

    I just finished a 10,000 word story that started out about a woman who survived the Dirty War in Argentina, a refugee in Canada, but ended with the story of a spirit bear who saved her from her anguished memories.

    Tapping away to get words down quickly, removes the opportunity of discovery.

  76. Love the idea of slow writing, but slow should be steady. My first book of short stories came in 1994 and second came in 2014. Non fiction came more regularly. Slow is an assuring word in the cutthroat world of academic publishing.

  77. I never realised that I unintentionally do this. When I’m busy working on non-writing stuff, I take opportunities to write in 150 word blocks. It gives me time to dwell on the plot and characters in-between the writing slots and go back and edit things.

  78. Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you, John, for the Manifesto. Because I took time off between periods of intensive writing – still chewing it over and over in my head (though feeling guilty) – I was finally able to see what the novel I am writing is really about. Without those breaks I would miss the point. Danka Scholtz von Lorenz

  79. Writing it by hand in a notebook is my first step when writing anything poem story novel. That sets the pace so that I don’t stress with deadlines and expectations of others or even my own expectations. I agree to your Manifesto

  80. Molly McKinley…I emphatically believe in every one of your points. Have used a method of going from longhand, moving to typewriter and finally to computer, which provokes thought, slows one down, and lands me with a third draft by the time I”m sitting in front of the lighted screen. Have found that long walks with my dog are “writing” time in my head, help me work out problems and meditate on a character or situation, fill in the backstory in my own mind, become well-acquainted with my people, think their thoughts. I’m also a slow read and am not necessarily inspired to read the latest thing. Had one of those ‘what are you reading these days’ conversations in a pop up writers’ group with agent recently, and I had just finished a winter with MOBY DICK–not considered good “comp” material! I’m also very much a proponent of re-reading books that have made an impact at different stages of life, consuming them with a different set of experiences under your belt.

  81. Thank you for this article. I’m a slow writer. I’m taking a break from fiction and writing a non-fiction series of “Slow Sew and Craft.” Slow is the keyword.

  82. I have put myself in competition with an old friend. It didn’t at all help me “beat” her. This makes so much sense. Thank you

  83. Yes and Nope….sounds like a gimmick to thin out the competition pool. If I slowed down any more, I would procrastinate more, and never write anything (which I kinda am on my way of doing anyway). Besides, people have their own paces. Live and let live. If you want to slow down, slow down, if not, keep up your breakneck pace.

    A manifesto and a cry for a movement just clears the way for others NOT slowing down to dominate a field.

    On the other hand, I do prefer a slower paced world, and I agree with the value of slowing down and enjoying life. I come from the mid-west where everything is slower and we enjoy the trends and changes in the world for years, unlike on the West Coast, where trends and life changes with the seasons. I agree with enjoying a book, taking time to deeply think about ideas, and enjoying time and the wealth and wisdom within.

    But do I think it requires a manifesto? No, how about just a club?

  84. Great article. The ironic part is that I am a new writer who has spent the last twenty years as a biotech entrepreneur, with high pressure to succeed on short timescales, limited funding, and aggressive milestones. I don’t feel that pressure writing, although I struggle to find the level of quality that will make me happy with my work. All in good time…

  85. Wonderful insights (as always from Mr. Fox!). I agree with everything here and appreciate the beautifully expressed arguments.

    Would also add, the Slow Food movement in the 1980s, spearheaded in Italy by Carlo Petrini, helped provide a spark for the many slow spinoffs that offer this measured perspective to life.