Monday, July 8, 2013

The Need for Speed

I've been privy to some interesting conversations lately on writing fast versus writing slow. I don't think either way is inherently correct, but I'll share some of my experiences.

In the past year, it's gotten so that I need to write fast in order to write well. Last summer I started several short stories and finished none. I was fiddling around, taking my time, and my inner editor was sneering and laughing and pointing at the words and saying, "You call this art? What drivel!" Yeah, he's a real jerk sometimes. That's why I don't feel bad when I lock him in the dungeon for days at a time and play "It's a Small World" on endless loop.

So for NaNoWriMo last year, I ended up writing several short stories. I had a month to get fifty thousand words down, so I had no time to hem and haw over the words. Every day I just had to go, go, go. And it worked. I finished several stories and shut that inner editor up.

If I write too slow--if I think over the words and the story's direction too much--then I freeze up. The faster I go, the fewer changes I typically end up making later, and I finish what I started. This has become true for fiction and non-fiction. Even when it comes to this blog, I do better when I sit down and write something out quickly at the last minute. I never used to be a procrastinator, really....

There are as many different ways to write as there are writers. Some feel the need for speed; others linger over the words, choosing them carefully before moving on. What sort are you?


  1. Hi Rebcca,

    Like you, I'm a proponent of the writing fast method. To me it makes sense; you're entirely in the creative portion of your brain, and by letting the words flow you enter a story-telling rhythm that isn't disrupted by constant analytical parts of the brain. It's no surprise, to me at least, that Ray Bradbury was a fan of this method too. He would write a short story in a single setting, with no thinking at all. Then he would tidy up afterwards.

    Bradbury would often go as far as saying that thinking at all is detrimental, and I agree with him—it's hard not to when you consider the sheer brilliance he came up with.

    I also wrote on this subject recently because I'm currently doing a 1 million words in a year challenge (I hope you don't mind me linking to it) :

    1. Thanks for the link, Colin. The million word challenge looks fascinating. I also think of Nora Roberts when I think of fast writers. She also writes under JD Robb, and she's capable of putting out several books a year.

    2. Yup, that's the thing. Many successful authors had to resort to using pen names just because of publishers not wanting to 'dilute' an author's appeal, which of course is ridiculous, because if a reader likes an authors, they'll read as much as they can put out.