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

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  137 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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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
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Kressel Housman
May 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
In keeping with the title of this book, I took my time getting through it, but the advice was both excellent and encouraging, and I took lots of notes for further reading.
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
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
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-writing
The Art of Slow Writing is possibly one of the best books to ground a writer in what it takes to become a productive writer. The book uses Louise's own process, plus many examples from a broad spectrum of writers, and has strong recommendations for ways to set up writing structure and self-care to get you through what it takes to get to the end goal, a finished book.

She highly recommends keeping a process journal for each book and in her classes assigns students to read John Steinbeck's Journal
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
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and found much of the advice inside useful. I think, as writers, we’re always looking for ways to improve our craft and new methods to implement. This was chockfull of examples of how other writers write. I also liked the emphasis on taking time to write. It seems like a lot of writing advice is about rushing through the process so it was nice to see reflections on how writing slow can be beneficial too.
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. ...more
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
Matt Hutson
May 14, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
The Art of Slow Writing takes you on a journey of reflection and the craft of writing. It mainly offers examples from fiction authors about the processes and habits of writers that can also be applied to people who write nonfiction as well.

Each section focuses on one part of the writing process. Each chapter focuses on one strategy that fits into the sections. It goes from before you even start writing your book to the point where you are finishing your book and what happens after. Definitely a
Ogi Ogas
Apr 15, 2022 rated it liked it
My ratings of books on Goodreads are solely a crude ranking of their utility to me, and not an evaluation of literary merit, entertainment value, social importance, humor, insightfulness, scientific accuracy, creative vigor, suspensefulness of plot, depth of characters, vitality of theme, excitement of climax, satisfaction of ending, or any other combination of dimensions of value which we are expected to boil down through some fabulous alchemy into a single digit.
Allegra Goodman
May 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a good book about writing, I recommend this one. DeSalvo's discussion of the process is spot on, as is her argument for working slower--not faster. She writes about thinking as well as writing, reflecting, allowing time for an idea to germinate, making time and using time well. Apprenticeship, the importance of reading, thinking of writing as a practice. Amen amen. ...more
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.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So good. I underlined so many sections, and I'll definitely flip through this again. ...more
Mar 15, 2022 rated it liked it
I enjoyed most of this one. Not as soaring in the inspirational department as some writing books, and not as practical as others, but on the whole a solid and accessible volume on the craft.

About a third is probably more suited to novice writers, in my opinion. But the majority has something to offer writers at any stage of their development.

I'll revisit this one in the future, I'm sure.
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! ...more
Madly Jane
Of all the books about the creative act and writing, this is one of my favorites. I have had three very different "writing lives" during my long years and now I am embarking on a fourth one. This is a book that I would use in teaching too, because it is "holistic" in its approach to what a writing life might be like. Why we write, how we develop routines, what writing means when you have other things to do, keeping writing journals, understanding the creative act, failures and rejection, writing ...more
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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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