There’s enough evidence now that the single best thing you can do to establish yourself as a writer and have some chance of success is to keep writing. Lately, that’s converged with discussions about publishers who are demanding that their authors turn out books at a faster pace than they have in the past. Well, we know where that has to lead: speed is the enemy of quality. There are so many possible ways to rebut that, but I stick to my belief that 1. any conflict between speed and quality is a function of the type of writing you do. If you write formula genre novels, you will probably sacrifice quality for speed, but most of your readers won’t care. 2. The co-existence of speed and quality is a function of the writer’s experience. The more you’ve written, the more you’ve learned about your craft, the more likely it is that you will increase your writing speed over time.
It’s always going to be more difficult for the novelist to turn out new work at a faster pace than the traditional standard, than it is for the short story writer. But self-publishing doesn’t limit us to those two. Properly priced novellas and extended short stories are now an acceptable and increasingly popular way to increase your backlist without either killing yourself or sacrificing quality.
The challenge of tackling unfamiliar forms can be a relief from the sometimes frustrating demands of novels. It can also jolt you out of rigid thinking about how you write and what you should write. If you’ve ever thrown out a story idea (or two or three) because you realized it didn’t have enough substance to become a novel, you may have tossed the inspiration for a perfectly good novella or short story. Unless you’re aiming for best sellerdom in a popular genre, and are content writing X number of novels that are all variations on a theme, your best chance of building a large audience is by offering variety, not just of genre, but of length.
You may need to write more than you do, but that isn’t exactly the same as writing faster. Speed alone isn’t a virtue.