Writing at Your Own Speed
This is something you may have heard from
other writers and non-writers:
If you write quickly, you're obviously a
The statement often includes (though
sometimes unstated) the corollary that if you write slowly, you're a good
Of course it isn't true. Speed of writing
has nothing to do with the ability to tell a story and do it well. That
ability comes, most often, from practice. You learn to write better by
writing and applying everything you've picked up elsewhere -- reading,
writing groups, critiquing others -- into that work. Whether your natural
flow of words is slow or fast has nothing to do with your ability to tell
the story well.
And besides, the people who believe writing
slow is the answer tie everything to writing the work and nothing to
editing. Working writers know that writing is only the first step in
creating a good, solid story. Editing is where we make that story shine and
fill in all the holes with nice shiny plot-fixer.
Some people write very slow, excellent
first drafts. Others write extremely slow horrible first drafts. Some
people write good fast first drafts -- and may even do several in a year --
and then take the time to edit them more slowly (or quickly, if they're good
at it). Some write a lot of books and don't bother to edit at all -- which
often puts them back in the same level as the very slow, horrible first
draft people. Others write horrible, fast first drafts that sometimes are
beyond the hope of editing.
Writers, both new and professional, do not
all work in the same way. Assuming that you can suddenly become a better
writer just by slowing down isn't true. A new writer doesn't abruptly
become infused with writerly-knowledge by writing 500 words a day rather
To become a better writer you need to do
Take the time to write stories. It
doesn't matter how fast or slow, as long as you stick to it.
Be willing to look at those written
words objectively and see what you can learn to do better.
There is no simple answer like writing
slower will make you a better writer. It can help in some cases, but the
ability to tell a story quickly is not a sign of poor storytelling skills.
It's just as likely that if a fast writer tried to work slowly, they'd lose
the spark of their story and probably lose interest. Writing 'in the fire'
for them is an important aspect of creativity.
The flow a writer achieves is something
personal, and usually changes from book-to-book. It can also depend on the
amount of pre-writing work they do, like outlines, character sheets and
other background material. It can depend on mood, outside interference, and
whether there is enough tea and chocolate in the house.
The work the person produces can't be
judged by the speed they write it. Work in ways that suit you. Your
stories will be better for it.