The tortoise and the hare – which are you?

We all know the famous story of the tortoise and the hare.

And that story all comes down to one thing.


The pacing of your novel is a biggie. And I think one of the harder aspects of writing to get right. But that’s for another day.

I want to talk about the pacing of your writing process. How fast do you go from idea, to prewriting, to writing, to revising, to querying? Because just like the rabbit, if we rush through the process, I think we’ll be barbecuing and drinking lemonade with the hare. (And I have it on good authority, he likes lemonade.)

Do you take that glorious, brilliant, shining-like-the-sun idea and jump in feet first? I love flashy new ideas but I always have to check it against what I’ve read recently. Aspects of my favorite novels tend to creep in. And we’re looking to be unique, right?

That’s why I like to brainstorm and plot a new story while I’m revising a different one. I need time. To brainstorm 5, 10, 15, 20 ideas to find the version I absolutely love.

Am I the only one on this? I’ve had to learn to write more/faster but slow down certain aspects of the overall process. Or can we go too slow?

Pacing. So, who are you? The tortoise or the hare? Have you found the right balance?




18 Responses to The tortoise and the hare – which are you?

  1. patti September 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    I seem to be a tortoise who’s trying to be a hare.
    My January release, Rhythms, kinda changes tempo near the end. Does it work? Time will tell!!!

    Great post!!! Love your blog.

  2. Karen Strong September 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I think I started out as a hare but due to all of my other responsibilities, I’m a tortoise now.

    Which for me, is a blessing in disguise. The original version/idea/premise of my current novel project was okay but now that I’ve had the time to let it brew and revise, I think this version is much stronger.

    I think the way you brainstorm different ideas to get the right version is a good thing.

    • Laura September 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

      Patti – Thanks!

      Karen – I’m still trying to find the right balance for me. I don’t want to rush things and not have the best idea. And I don’t want to go too slow and harp over things that aren’t worth the time. Balance.

  3. Erin September 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    I’m TOTALLY the hare… I scramble and rush and send things off… and often have to do a lot more editing as a result!!

  4. dirtywhitecandy September 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    I’m impatience personified. All the important, significant things I do are on the spur of the moment – buying a house, deciding to move in with someone and marry them, starting a blog. I have impulse tourette’s.

    However, when it comes to my writing, I’ve learned that no matter how much I want to fling open the windows and sing my manuscript to the world, it needs to mature. So I’ve trained myself to be a tortoise as a writer. It helps, though, to have severl projects bubbling at once.

  5. Karen Lange September 7, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Good stuff to ponder. I can be a little of both, and need to work for a good balance.

    • Laura September 7, 2010 at 11:44 am #

      Erin – I’ve learned to slow down the process before jumping into querying.

      Roz – My plots seem to get better with a little stewing too!

      Karen – I’m def. a little bit of both depending what stage I’m at.

  6. Jen September 7, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    This was such a cute post!!! I would say I’m still in the leveling out phase, searching for the perfect balance, a little more hare than tortoise, but soon it will be a perfect blend!

  7. Creepy Query Girl September 7, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Tortoise and a Hare. I don’t jump into my new ideas. It takes me about three months before I’ll go from having the idea to actually sitting down to write the book. First I log the idea into its own file with a ‘title’- just a short blurb of the general idea. Then in the following weeks I’ll add to it here and there. A plot twist. An interseting character, etc… Then when I feel like I really know what’s in store – a beginning, middle, and end- I make an outline. The ouline is basically numbered scenes with a two sentence blurb about what I’d like to see happen in each. Once I have this, I’ll sit down to get the first draft out. The first draft usually comes out pretty fast. This is where the Hare part comes back in. I’ll go from completing a rough draft to wanting to query it all in the matter of two or three months. I don’t take the time I need to make sure its perfect because I’m just in a rush to get it out there. A few rejections later, I finally settle down and start working on revisions the proper way though:)

  8. kris September 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Is there a third choice? Like Sloth? Just kidding. Actually, no, I do feel like that sometimes–I need a kick in the pants to sit down and do ANYTHING. I tend to procrastinate if I don’t have an idea–rather than focusing on brainstorming to come up with an idea. I need to come up with a better way to plot and organize my fiction.

    I’m working on nonfiction right now, so I’m taking a natural break from my fiction. So you’d think I’d have time to let stuff percolate. But you know full well when I finally have the time to work on my fiction, it’ll be…sloth.


    • Laura September 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

      Jen – It’s def. a learning process!

      Katie – Your process sounds exactly like mine!

      Kris – Paying work takes precedence! And some parts of the process are naturally slower.

  9. Katie Anderson September 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Oh man, I am such a tortoise… But slow and steady wins the race, right? At least that’s what I’m hoping 🙂 I’m way too much of a perfectionist to be a hare.

  10. Susan Kaye Quinn September 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    I’m a hare that jumps around spastically when I have a shiny new idea, but in reality I’m the tortoise when it actually comes to the writing itself. I DO need time for it to percolate and ferment and grow. I almost always have more than one project going, because going away and coming back works best for me!

    Great post! 🙂

  11. Patti September 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    I think when it comes to ideas I tend to jump right in then realize the water is cold and come back out right away. I have chapters of started books.

    I also think my ideas evolve over time, which takes me writing a bit before I decide what’s going to happen.

    • Laura September 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

      Katie – I would have to agree that it’s better to be slower paced because perspective changes with time.

      Susan – I agree a new idea can send me jumping around – but that’s just jumping around – my brain is still working the story out.

      Patti – I’ve heard for every great story idea we have to go through a bunch of ones that don’t pan out!

  12. Julie Musil September 8, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    Ah, what a question! Sometimes I feel like the slowest tortoise out there. I took several months of plotting before this current wip. Finally, I felt I had to dive in our else I’d never start it. I feel like I’m making steady progress, which is good. But I have writer friends who blow past me and leave me in the dust. That’s when I put too much pressure on myself to go quicker. I do need to relax and just let it come to me slowly, but I also need to keep from procrastinating. What a long comment…see what I mean about the tortoise?

    Great post.

  13. Benoit Lelievre September 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    You have a great writing blog Laura. I’m glad I found you.

    I’m a tortoise. I like slow. Slow pace, slow writing, slow story. I’m one of those purist idiots that think you need a certain “thickness” in order to have a compelling book.

  14. Dawn Simon September 10, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    I set deadlines and daily page count goals for myself to make sure I’m accomplishing tasks in a timely manner. That said, if something needs more time, I’ll take it (for example, I recently had to work through a plot issue and went back to the outline for significant changes that are making my story stronger). I’m driven and push myself, but I’m also a tad on the obsessive-compulsive side, so I’m careful.

    I think you’re smart to brainstorm and plot a new story while you’re revising the other.

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