As a writer and creative, are you meant to go down the direct route, immediately producing that book in record-breaking time? Or, is so-called “procrastination” part of the creative process…a required element to add to the quality and longevity of your work?After all, as creative guru John Lennon once said: “Life is lived while busy making other plans”.
These contradictions often go into battle at the back of my head and I’m constantly coming across this tension in other writers as well.
Recently, I was reminded of this tension reading this quote by Moliere:
“The trees that are slow to grow, bear the best fruit.”
However, is this true? Or, is it just a nice saying?
The Mighty Oak
I consulted the Google oracle to see what its great wisdom revealed and found this research report by Bryan Black, an assistant professor of forestry at Oregon State University, who works out of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore. His research shows that even within a species, the oldest trees grow the slowest, even as youngsters.
“Faster growing trees may put all of their energy into growth and burn out before they can achieve really old age,” he said. “Slow-growing trees may invest a lot in producing strong wood and defense mechanisms against insects and disease and never rise above the forest canopy.”
Rapidly growing trees may occupy space more quickly, reach sexual maturity earlier, and are more prone to frequent, catastrophic disturbances, including flood, fire and windstorms, Black said. They also die at a younger age. Meanwhile, the slower growing trees channel their energy into structural support and defense compounds, don’t burn out from reproducing, and slowly-but-surely outpace their mercurial cousins.http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2009/feb/study-finds-oldest-trees-grow-slowest-%E2%80%93-even-youngsters
So, this research suggests slow and steady ultimately wins the race. Well, that is, if being a long-lived tree is your goal.
While I feel pressured to get that book out there, I have benefited from taking the extra time. I have grown so much as writer through the hours I am putting into my blog and have found my voice. Even more importantly, I have been dialoguing and chatting with my readers, while also reading and responding to their work. Through these exchanges, I’ve been unconsciously fine tuning my story. It might be taking me longer to write the book and it might even be taking me away from it, but I know that what I’ll write now will be much more relevant. It has to be. After all, I’ve spent the last 4 years listening as well as writing. Moreover, being able to hear readers before I write the book project, has to be revolutionary.
However, it takes a lot of courage to take your time writing the book. There’s so much pressure to publish just to gain any kind of credibility. You’re not a real writer until you’ve actually published the book…any book!
Yet, isn’t the ultimate credibility writing something worth reading? Writing something which changes your readers lives and minds and inspires them in some way? I’m sure that doesn’t happen overnight just like quality plants don’t mature overnight either.
Indeed, we’ve all seen backyard domination by the mighty weed. Is that what we want from our modern literature?
So, while I think there is a place for writing, writing, writing and getting that book out ASAP, I’m still a believer in “slow and steady wins the race”. That the tortoise will ultimately take out the hare but the tortoise still needs to make it through to the finish line.
That’s something I need to work a lot harder on.
What are your thoughts?
And so the race begins…