Everyone can write fast.
Very few can write fast well.
This piece was written (in under 60-minutes mind you) to hopefully show you how to pull off the latter.
How to write fast. Or, at the very least, faster.
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas was written in two and half days with author John Boyne claiming he was so entranced in the story he didn’t stop to eat nor sleep.
The masterpiece On The Road, written by Jack Kerouac, took less than a month to put to paper.
The Gambler, by the infamous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was apparently completed in twenty-six days.
Now, take all of this with a grain of salt because there is a tremendous amount of lore that surrounds writing.
But, even if the above examples are only partially true, this is proof there are individuals who are capable of writing gems at a pace that would leave Usain Bolt scratching his head in disbelief.
Here are a few ways fast writers seem to be approaching writing…
They’ve been at it for a long time.
I won’t spend much time here because the last piece of advice anyone wants to hear on the topic of how to write faster is to write more often.
But, the truth is that like running, you will become a faster writer the more your write.
Malcolm Gladwell, the well-known writer, journalist and public speaker, claims that it takes individuals 10,000 hours of work to become experts in their given field.
The careers he lists as examples?
So, before we move on if you’re only 100 hours or so into your writing career… shut up and get back to work.
If you aren’t, keep reading…
They force themselves to do a lot of work.
Ira Glass shares the following wisdom with budding writers and creatives…
“Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.”
I adore this advice… I give similar advice to writers in this article, explaining that writing is about striking this nice balance between quality and quantity.
Treat your writing like a news publication.
Each week, your stories go out the door at 5 p.m. every Friday night and you better have one, two, three or four ready for your readers.
(Even if your readers don’t exist yet.)
They have a strict mental diet.
Prolific writers are voracious readers.
Stephen King, the reigning dark lord of horror, believes in this sentiment so much that he tells writers …
“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
King has often cited his love for reading as playing no small part in his ability to write as well as he does.
(I’d also argue King has some God-given talent the rest of us don’t.)
The brilliant writer is seventy-something years old and still reads nearly 100 books a year.
He has read at this maddening pace throughout his entire career and I don’t think it is a coincidence that he has (also) written and published 52 novels.
He published his first novel, Carrie, back in 1974. If he read just 75 books a year since the year of his first publishing, he has read approximately 3,375 books to date.
In short, put good material in, and good material is bound to come out, eventually.
They have designated writing windows.
Paul Graham is known for the creation of Y-combinator. Essentially, the greatest startup accelerator in existence.
He also writes, a lot.
One of his more impressive pieces, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule”, outlines the differences in a creative’s workflow and a manager’s workflow.
It’s the classic right brain versus left brain comparison.
If you’re a writer, much of your day needs to be spent “making” rather than “managing”.
This means you need to be windowing out large chunks of time to sit down at your computer and scribble your little heart out, uninterrupted.
Unfortunately, where creatives and writers get hung up is that they also have to “manage” themselves.
Pitch new business.
Follow-up on invoices.
Follow-up on invoices, again.
Respond to email.
It’s extraordinarily hard to focus when you’re attempting to be a “manager” and a “maker” at the same time.
In fact, I’d argue it’s impossible.
You’re better of breaking up your days to do one or the other.
For example, here at Honey Copy, I only take meetings on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s after 2 p.m. CST. This is also when I “try” to do my admin work (AKA everything I listed above).
If you don’t have this luxury, try and just stop checking email, social media and texts during your writing windows.
When your “maker hat” is on, don’t try to be a manager.
Sometimes, they write stream of consciousness.
There was a study done nearly two decades ago where a scientist did a deep evaluation of how we write.
What he found was that writing is done in a “burst-pause-evaluate” pattern.
Writers burst out and write a sentence, quickly. Then, they pause and reread said sentence. And, finally, they judge whether or not it’s “good”.
Then, they repeat.
Faster writers do longer sentences bursts. So, instead of writing short sentences, they might write longer ones.
Another way to approach this is to change your pattern.
Attempting to write two, three and four sentences in one long burst, then pausing momentarily to review.
Charles Bukowski was notorious for writing in this way. He wouldn’t really think, he would just explode onto the page.
Apparently, his break-out novel Post Office was written in three weeks.
This is also called writing “stream of conscious”.
If you’re trying to add a little extra “oomph” to your speed, do less thinking and more writing — just put to paper what comes to mind.
Then, of course, edit.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.
Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on May 26, 2020.