Are you a fast writer? If you are, you might be better off than your slower counterparts. Slow writers may be slow because they are too cerebral, detail-oriented and tend to let their “inner editor” interfere with the writing process.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a slow writer, so if you’re like me, you will benefit by picking up your writing pace. Raymond Chandler, the late American novelist and screenwriter tells us why. Known for his detective fiction, Chandler said, “The faster I write the better my output. If I am going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”
Chandler not only makes a good point, he leaves us with a pointed question. Are we pushing our words or being pulled by them? I’m not only pushing them, sometimes I’m pushing them uphill. It’s so much better to be pulled by them as you establish a momentum to your writing.
You develop momentum by writing fast. And when you write for speed, you are less emotionally involved in the writing and that increases your word count, helps you empty your head and fill the page, fosters a feeling of accomplishment, makes you feel like a writer, and temporarily silences your inner editor. (See “How to Silence Your Inner Editor,” October 19, 2011 in the archive at right.) Most importantly, writing fast reinforces a feeling that you are controlling your writing, it’s not controlling you.
How do you write fast? Just get it down. Don’t look back. Like the artist that throws paint at the wall, fling your words on the page. Let it fly, see what sticks. Clean it up in the editing process. Write the first draft as fast as you can. The goal is speed and volume.
And you can write faster by overcoming the mental barriers of writing. Don’t fear the blank page. (Why are we afraid that we will ruin a perfectly good blank page by merely placing our words on it?) You can write faster when you’re not concerned about grammar, style or even “a better way of saying it.” You can write faster when you let your writing flow and rely on your editing process. Believe that good editing will save any page from the collateral damage of poor word choices. (Quality control comes later. After all, the longer you restrain your inner editor, the more it will scream to get out.) So, make the mental adjustment of giving yourself permission to do your best work at the end of the writing process rather than the beginning.
And think about what Chandler said. Writing is difficult enough. Why do it alone? Why not write faster and let your words pull you along?
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
You may contact Jim Magruder at: email@example.com.