The Slow Work of Making Art with Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz is not a fast writer.

There are long pauses between his books – five years, eleven years.

It took two unsuccessful versions of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao before he found the story he wanted to tell. Sometimes, he will write a chapter 20 times, throwing out page after page, before he can start to see what the narrative is. But, as he told the Boston Globe, “anything I’ve ever written well has come out of an enormous amount of failure.”

And he reads a ton while he is writing. He once said it can average out to a book a page.

He works and lives in a world that values what he describes as “machine-speed productivity.” Many authors put out a book every other year, some every year.

For a while, he felt pressure, even felt bad he couldn’t write faster, faster, faster. But what he realized was that as a writer, an artist, the work is discovery, which can sometimes take a long, long time.

So, when The Daily Beast asked what his advice is for aspiring writers, he said simply:

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.”

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