The Art of Slow Writing

the art of slow writing by nicole gulotta

We live in a culture that values speed, quickness, and urgency.

So too, our writing has undergone this stretching in recent years, a moving away from the rhythms and pace of our own spirit towards strangling yet intoxicating internet voices shouting “Create three insanely useful blog posts every week!” “Go viral!” “Do what everyone else is doing!” “Don’t. Take. A. Day. Off. (Or your traffic will plummet.)”

It’s all enormously stressful and confusing for the inspired writer who simply wants to share what’s in her soul, when it feels good. Not because she’s done deep research into Google analytics and discovered the most popular time on her blog is Wednesday evening at 5:36 p.m., or because a well-meaning entrepreneur taught her how to do keyword research to find out what her audience really wants.

No, because she’s been thinking about something for a while now, rolling thoughts over in her mind the way you suck on a sunflower seed before spitting out the shell.

Because she’s been considering, and drafting, and polishing, and finally, it just seems right to hit publish and watch her words reach and extend beyond her keeping.

@@Slow writing is about attention, mindfulness, and awareness@@, necessary components to the lifelong pursuit of writing. It is a small but mighty movement.

The practice, according to the New York Times, is inspired by the slow food movement.

“Slow food advocates, like the chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., believe that food should be local, organic and seasonal; slow bloggers believe that news-driven blogs like TechCrunch and Gawker are the equivalent of fast food restaurants—great for occasional consumption, but not enough to guarantee human sustenance over the longer haul.”

This comparison is appropriate, I think, as nourishment is a necessity for writing. Who can do their most creative work when their bodies, minds, and spirits, are not full?

Prior to this article, Todd Sieling wrote a slow blog manifesto in 2006, explaining the movement “is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.”

For creative coach Jen Carrington, slow blogging is about “quality over quantity,” and releasing any pressure you might feel to keep up online.

Since writing is a lifestyle and long-term endeavor, a philosophy like slow writing is the most nurturing way to approach the craft. Burnout and fatigue are readily accessible, but slow writing is about developing a sustainable writing practice that supports you and meets you where you are right now.

the art of slow writing by nicole gulotta

A few guidelines for practicing the art of slow writing:

  • Lead with intuition
  • Pursue fewer projects at a time
  • Do what’s best for you and the community you are building
  • Notice some of the trends and best practices, but only allow in what feels instinctually helpful
  • Ignore anything or any person who uses the word hustle
  • Write at your own pace
  • Celebrate small milestones, always

Above all, remember that writing is a lifelong pursuit, so stand back and consider the larger scope of your work.

Most certainly, there are times a more frenzied pace is required, perhaps while in the middle of drafting a memoir, or testing recipes for a cookbook, or a book deadline is approaching.

There will be periods of great energy and inspiration, but also times to pull back. Our children are out of school for the summer, a holiday break arrives, or simply because we feel we need the rest.

Slow writing is about listening to your life, and honoring the circumstances where you find yourself in this particular season.

You are enough.

@@Your words matter, and when the time is right, they will be given wings.@@