Finding your own optimal writing speed can be a great boon to your writing. When I was younger I used to write a lot quicker than I do now; too quickly if I’m being honest with you. Everything I wrote was littered with errors, not the type of errors you’d expect with a first draft either – basic spelling mistakes, sentences that didn’t make sense, entire sections that made no sense. As I got better at the craft and learnt more about editing and structure, what I found was that I was slowing my writing down in order to implement the editing skills into my writing. I can still write as fast as I used to when I try to, but the quality suffers greatly.
What I mean when I say your optimal speed is that it is situation and writer dependant. I know a lot of people who word vomit onto a page – which I don’t mean derogatorily – and go back and fix it later. That works for them. It doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve found that my confidence plummets when I go back and read the stuff I’ve written; seeing the essence of my old work in what I’m writing instils a feeling of failure, like I haven’t grown in the years since then. Having said that, I do go back to the old way when I need to. Sometimes, I need to write quickly in order to get it out of me and I don’t have time to slow down. Recently, I was very close to the ending of a writing project and my desire to finish vastly outweighed my desire to do a good job. So I sat down and wrote the way I used to. It was terrible, underwhelming and I have since scrapped the entire section and have started it again. But I’m able to do the next version slowly because I’ve already finished; I’m redoing the ending in a different draft so, technically, it’s editing, not writing.
That’s why it’s important to find your own speed and the speed that works for you for what you’re doing. There is a lot of advice out there that usually goes something like write fast, edit slow. If that works for you, fantastic, but don’t blindly follow overarching advice for something that can’t be blanketed like that. If you’re finding that you’re not enjoying writing as much as you should do, why don’t you try adjusting your speed. Speed it up and turn off your inner editor for a bit, slow down and listen to that editor a little bit more. Try different things and find what works for you.
© 2020 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.