Writing Fast

Yes, I’ve probably written a post with that title before, but I can’t think of another that will do quite as well.

Last weekend at a party I met a columnist for one of our local papers, and he was talking about how he agonized over every word and how it took him so long to write each one of his columns.  This writer told me how he doesn’t really consider himself a writer, more of an expert on the topic he writes about. 

So of course I opened my big mouth and said how I had been known, upon occasion to write 25,000 word ebooks in five days. 

That didn’t go over so big.

And I can see why–after all, it sounds ridiculous to me as I write it now.  But in the world of copywriting, and particularly internet copywriting, one is sometimes called upon to write fast.  Speed is of the essence, baby–and sometimes it is the only essence.  I do pride myself on my work, however, and I even when I’m writing fast I do my best to produce a quality product.

The truth of the matter is that writing fast is fun.  And I’m convinced that it sometimes–not always, but sometimes–produces a product that is as good if not better than a piece that has been agonized over.    At the same time, I am a huge believer in the writing process–writing a draft, and then another, and another and another.  And many of my copy assignments would be better if I had time to go back over them a couple times.  But even when I do, I’m often surprised at how well the first draft stands up.

Why?  Because in not having time to obsess over every word, I’m able to go directly to the source and pull out the words that are lurking within.  I swear, those words really like to come out and play–they just want to be asked.  And, like any of us, who wants to play with someone who is wringing her hands and whining about how hard it all is? 

So next time you sit down to write, try these tips:

Set a timer.  Give yourself a certain amount of time to finish the project, set a timer and then stop when the timer goes off–even if you are in the middle of a sentence.  It worked for Hemingway, so it will work for you.

Give yourself a word limit.  Say you want to make progress on a novel.  Set yourself a certain number of words or pages to write every day.  Good goals are three pages a day or 1000 words.  3 pages a day may not sound like much, but at the end of a week, you’ve got 21 pages and at the end of a month, 84.  Damn!  That’s a lot of pages.  It surprised even me, I had to go back and check my addition.  That is a third of a novel, people.

Write every day.  I know, I know, you’re plugging your ears and saying, "Nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you," because you really don’t want to hear it.  But the truth is that writing every day makes it easier to pull those words out to play and it keeps the momentum going, too.

And now, I promise, no more posts on this topic for awhile. 

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2 Comments on "Writing Fast"

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robert bourne
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I find it’s easy to write fast when I’m in that sort of zone where my brain is working well.. the hard part is doing it when your struggling a bitthat makes it more of a challenge..

Don
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Don
Writing fast is interesting. Usually, I do a post on my blog in five minutes or less, and then I agonize on why I did it? I always wish I did it better, but the truth is that, as you said, that writing fast is indeed fun and even though it may not come out perfect, it still seems, for the most part, to be not too, too bad after all. The problem with agonizing and taking up too much time when writing is that it hinders your imagination. Just writing and letting everything flow can be good not only… Read more »
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