I’ve been seeing a lot of tips from editors and publishing professionals on my social feeds lately.

This is partly my own fault, for engaging with that content, but it’s a good way to learn.

I also realised something when one of the editors said that she typically puts her book through 5-6 complete revisions before she considers it ready to publish.

From draft 1 to draft 2 she said she usually gets on her own, from draft 3 onwards it’s about getting other people’s eyes on the book and revising.

My first thought, when I heard this, was that six revisions is a-fucking-lot.

Going through the whole manuscript that many times is exhausting.

And some people publish two books a year?

Others 6? Some 12?

By the gods, anything beyond 2 can’t be done alone. Not without it taking a heavy mental toll.

And according to my empirical research of authors talking about how much they write/publish, a pattern has emerged where I see the unregulated neurodivergents leading the pack. 

And in my short 3-ish years of more intensely following other authors, I’ve also noted that a lot of them who push hard and write a lot, also burn out a lot.

Considering that recovering from burnout can take years (yes, years!), I see a lot of them grappling with other issues too, like anxiety and depression.

And this inevitably leads me to ask, is that how you want to work?

My whole career in writing has been about getting ahead of the pack, becoming the point of the spear.

And that’s a relentless pursuit.

There’s always going to be someone younger, faster, better, more financed, willing to cross ethical lines you aren’t ready to.

Quality work doesn’t come from blazing through writing.

The thing that I’ve always loved about writing is its cathartic effect.

And you don’t get that if you rush.

I’m not even saying that the quickly written book doesn’t have a place in the market, it totally does.

I’m just saying that I feel like being an author that does that, would be exhausting for me.

And I don’t want to write to be exhausted.

I don’t want to be one of those writers stuck in the rat-race (the whole point of quitting the 9-5 job is to get off the wheel).

As a copywriter, I’ve competed in fields where it’s a race to the bottom, and when you win, you only ever lose because someone in India can do the same work for less because they have economies of scale on their side.

I hated that. I had a significant emotional learning even where I decided, “never again”.

So, yeah, I’ve taken my 2-3 years to write my 170k + a novella, but I’m not burned out (I have been once before, and that’s another Never Again moment for me).

Do I feel some FOMO when I see others churning out 2, 3, 6, 12 books a year?


But I don’t have a publisher at my back to do marketing. I don’t have a team to help with the plotting, writing and editing.

So, I’m going (try very hard) to not get triggered into the wrong kind of comparison with other people.

Fiction writing, for me, is about the slow life. It’s like slow food for the soul.

I don’t like reading books that don’t mean anything, that fall apart at the slightest bit of scrutiny, that are boring because they weren’t well edited and the words get in the way of telling the story.

I like the books that sweep me away and forget the rest of the world exists for a little while.

The ones that introduce me to characters that stay with me for years.

The ones that I struggle to find anything to be very critical about.

And because that’s where I feel good, that’s where I want to create my books, that’s where I want them to live.

I know it feels like the world today moves at breakneck speed, blink and you miss it kind of stuff.

But I’m going to set that aside, put it in the box of the super fast online lane, and get back to my own work, in my own time.

I’m going to end by remembering what Seth Godin said.

The only  purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship. Shipping means hitting the publish button on your blog, showing a presentation to the sales team, answering the phone, selling the muffins, sending out your references. Shipping is the collision between your work and the outside world.

— Seth Godin

And getting into that mode where you’re running after things, rather than moving solidly from your own centre, it’s just pushing your goals beyond your cognitive horizon.

We have to move towards goals we can achieve, not ones that are too complex and ambitious (because we’ll never get there and just get depressed and demotivated to boot).

So, here’s to shipping it! 🍻

All the love, all the power,