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The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  519 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In a series of conversational observations and meditations on the writing process, The Art of Slow Writing examines the benefits of writing slowly. DeSalvo advises her readers to explore their creative process on deeper levels by getting to know themselves and their stories more fully over a longer period of time. She writes in the same supportive manner that encourages he ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Leslie Reese
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Before I aspired to write, I was a young person who loved to read.  And even though it was fun to say that I had read a certain number of Nancy Drew mysteries, reading didn't become a quantifiable activity until 2011 when I joined Goodreads and saw that people were reading 50 books, 100 books, 150 books per year and more!  I didn’t even know such a thing was possible, especially not for adults with jobs, relationships, and other interests and responsibilities!  And when I saw that many of these ...more
Julie Christine
All this instant this and instant that makes it hard for us writers to understand that it might take a long time to write a book, and that we often can’t predict how much time the work will take. It might make us expect to write our books more quickly than they can or should be written. It might make the people in our lives believe we should finish our work sooner than it’s possible. It might make us feel like failures because we’re taking such a long time. And it might cause us to abandon an im
Jennifer Louden
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is pure gold. If I wrote a book about what I teach at the Taos Writing Retreat, this would be it. For anyone who wants to write smarter, deeper, truer. She breaks down so many mysteries of the craft and the working process. !!!
"[Sue] Grafton keeps a separate journal for each novel; they're about four times longer than the novel itself. She writes an entry each day before she begins work. She records her feelings - especially if she's anxious - so they won't interfere with her day's work, a brief account of daily events, helpful dreams, ideas about the direction her work might take.

The journal stands as a record of the conversation she has with herself about the work in progress. She describe
Cindy Richard
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would! So many great tips on forming a sustainable writing practice - how to think about writing, when to write, obstacles to writing, identifying mentors... and this is just a small sample. DeSalvo's advice is down to Earth and digestable (each of the chapters is 3-5 pages long). It encourages you to take your time - which is exactly what this author is advocating. I also read another book about slow reading, and between these two books, I am certa ...more
Story Circle Book Reviews
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I have found that ideas may come quickly but the actual writing to completion can be slow. That's why I was very attracted to Louise DeSalvo's book, The Art of Slow Writing. DeSalvo shares her own writing process, while examining the benefits of writing slowly, and describes the work habits of other very successful writers. The book is full of useful advice and tips gathered from decades of practice and research.

Part One, "Getting Ready to Write," explores the beginning stages of the writing pro
Leigh Anne
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Encouragement and advice for writers who feel like they're falling behind.

"Behind," of course, is all in your head, because everybody's timetable is different. And, darn it, good writing just plain takes time. All of DeSalvo's chapters are variations on this theme, drawing on examples from many famous writers and their processes as helpful examples.

Readers will pick up a few concrete pointers here and there, but this book is mostly about reassurance. Because DeSalvo is a Woolf scholar, she does
Mary Catelli
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
An uneven book.

There's plentiful information on various writing process and techniques, which can be useful. On the other hand, there's also a definite bias toward what gets cited. Ray Bradbury is quoted once, but not, obviously, the advice that he gives to write a short story every single week.
Oct 26, 2019 added it

From formlessness, form arises. A story, essay, poem, novel, begins from a slight agitation, a dream, an image of the sun sprinkling over the water, from a hidden place deep in the unconscious. It is raw, muddled. A piece of soft clay that must. be shaped repeatedly before hardening. There may not even be a final form in mind, only the steady cut of steel to unformed material, as shavings float away to reveal a mysterious figure.

Write when you’re ready, when you can. If you wait for
Dylan Perry
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reread: May-June 2019

Reading this book is like ducking into a small, isolated space, and taking a deep breath while the world rushes on. This world I speak of is publishing, which is developing a culture that often equates speed with quality—number of words written matter almost more than the words themselves. Now, I’m a junkie for author and editor interviews and more and more the last few years I find this unspoken mindset hiding under the advice, be it for the traditional route or self-publis
Lee Kofman
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good, thorough exploration of the intricacies of writing process. Most books on writing deal with both process and craft (like Bird By Bird), or with craft only, and it's refreshing to see a book that zooms in such detail just on how creativity works. While generally this is what makes this book so good (as well as the numerous examples of various writers' processes), sometimes this is also what gets in the way of the reading pleasure. The focus is so intense that some chapters ended u ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
In our microwave society we're accustomed to speed. We see famous authors churning out bestsellers (and sometimes we wish they'd do it faster, as we're desperate to read whatever's next!) This book makes a solid argument for the other side, the masters who publish every six to ten years (I heard Anne Bogel say recently, "It's been about six years, so-and-so is due for another book," and I so appreciated that!)

The main points are this:
It takes slow to grow (that's in the preface, so it's basical
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a calming and sane book about writing. Each short chapter is a reflection on both the process of writing and the reality of being a writer. They almost function like a little dictionary of writing. Look up a topic in the table of contents, and get a brief essay that will be helpful, insightful, and most of all help you chill a bit.
Nov 10, 2014 added it
Enjoyable, low-key, intelligent commentary from a Virginia Woolf scholar and biography (who has written in many other genres as well). I'm always game to hear that it's good to be slow.
Tara Brabazon
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A strong book that presents commonsensical ideas, but also demonstrates clarity in managing difficult moments and difficult times.

DeSalvo shows that writing is based on decisions. We need to broadened the spectrum of those decisions, so they include leisure, rest and sleep.

The key argument of the book is that great writing requires reflection. This reflection only emerges when managing - and mitigating - the speed of our writing. Fast prose is powerful, propulsive and inspiring.

But there are t
Reread with a notebook and pen in hand. March 2018.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-resource
So much information jam-packed into this well resourced writing book.
Kristin Lenz
Comforting and validating.
Jo Ann
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, writing
Read slowly to match my slow writing. This book was a constant encouragement to keep going and a reminder that the best usually isn’t the fastest.
Abby Cooper
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Maybe my favorite writing book I've ever read. Tons of great advice. Highly recommend!
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a avid reader, I also like to read about writing. The title intrigued me. DeSalvo draws upon her own experience and the experiences of a number of authors.
She advocates writing as a meditative act. One takes time to imagine the work and think about it. Then one writes, knowing there will be many opportunities to get it right. She helps writers work in stages, writing, revising, learning. She advocates fine tuning, going through the work sentence by sentence and word by word. Good writing tak
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
For someone who hasn’t had to write anything in 30 years like myself, this book underlines some essential truths about achieving anything, even for non-writers:

1) Achievement (i.e., writing), takes time, patience, determination, and fortitude;

2) Genius (or what passes for it) is often really more the effort of having to make a multitude of choices, conscious and unconscious;

3) Writers (or anyone trying to achieve something) continually face the stress of having to start their work over from scra
Deane Barker
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Just loved it.

It's a series of short essays on the often tortured art of writing. There are at almost 50 chapters, and in each, the author writes about some specific aspect of the struggle of writing, and how it's a skill and discipline which develops over time.

It turns out that novels take years to write. Authors quit, start again, destroy, create, and sometimes abandon. Writing is messy and imperfect. Often it's never great, just good enough. For the writer, it can always be a
Catherine Gillespie
The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity thoughtfully combines relevant information on life management with inspiration for creative callings.

This is not a how-to book in the sense of structuring plots and assigning writing exercises, but it is a call to work slowly, meditatively, and deeply to create work of lasting value and higher impact. It is also not a time management book in the vein of establishing schedules in 15 minute increments and checking things off of a
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A combination of reflections on how famous authors write and a practical roadmap for starting and persisting through a project. The permission to be slow and plodding, and still count that time as productive is refreshing. I want my life to be that way, not just my approach to writing.

HOWEVER. DeSalvo outlines a process journal, a writer's notebook, a book for writing goals multiple times a day, and a log to track your work. It sounds lovely, but when does she have time to put an actual work on
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this book from the library, but will be ordering my own copy today. That's because I started reading at 7:30 last night, when I was really tired, got a second wind from reading DeSalvo's beautiful prose, and couldn't put it down until I finished at midnight. There are dozens of post-its in the book, marking places where I want to copy out her words of wisdom. I can't wait to do that later today because it will give me a second reading of this wonderful book.
I realize how wrong it is t
Josephine Ensign
May 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this book as I admire much of DeSalvo's body of work. Unfortunately, I was disappointed as I read this book. It felt disjointed and incomplete and redundant in many places, as if it were a collection of blog posts—which—surprise! at the end of the book she reveals it is. But I found this to be illuminating as to the significant drawbacks of trying to make a good book out of a bunch of related blog posts. Note to self: I won't be making this mistake. I'll be passing my copy o ...more
Mary Conway
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
A generally well written and interesting book. It greatly reassured me about how my progress writing was going and gave me a lot to think about. The main fault would be how often the author reiterates what she's working on because she talks about it almost every chapter which got repetitive quickly. However, I read it through in a couple of sittings whereas others might prefer to dip in and out of chapters, in which case it wouldn't be such a problem. I'd recommend it for anyone thinking of writ ...more
Angell Johnson
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I checked this book out from the library in order to improve on my writing. I had no support or feedback from my readers, which left me with little room to know what needs improvement. I am definitely going to purchase this book for myself as a keepsake. Hands down one of the best books on the craft, the process, and the small slow steps that novelists take to put the big picture together.
Sigrun Hodne
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
“Slow writing is a meditative act: slowing down to understand our relationship to our writing, slowing down to determine our authentic subjects, slowing down to write complex works, slowing down to study our literary antecedents.”
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Louise A. DeSalvo (born 1942) is an American writer, editor, professor, and lecturer who currently lives in New Jersey. Much of her work focuses on Italian-American culture, though she is also a renowned Virginia Woolf scholar.

DeSalvo and her husband raised their children in Teaneck, New Jersey before moving to Montclair to be closer to their grandchildren.

She also teaches memoir writing as a part

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