Is Speed The Answer?

No less than three times, and probably more like half a dozen, there have been suggestions, prompts or outright directions to write without the thought of a particular goal, to write without over-thinking your words, to write fast, but mainly, just write. 

This is not a new idea.  But what I’ve learned about writing is this, it’s like playing golf.  There are many rules, many things for a writer to remember.  It takes time for a newbie, like me, to take it all in, to have it trickle downstream, to discover it – and mostly, for it to all sink in.  And even when it does, sometimes I still need a reminder!

My latest “discovery” which has really been percolating along for a couple months, is to write with speed.  Is this the answer to fresh or fresher writing?  For me, it could be.  For you?  Well, consider these two sites:

At the site above, you’ll see where this author has established ten minute challenges.  She has ten minute readers, and if you scroll down her list in her blog you’ll see Ten Minute 101.  (she also posted about how a MAJOR PUBLISHER contacted her about writing a non-fiction book based on her blog – I use CAPS because this was how she referred to MAJOR PUBLISHER… 🙂  and how she acquired her agent along with a book deal.  It’s a must read.  I love hearing about how others got their agents, especially when it’s an outside the box sort of scenario)

And there’s this site too, with a really cool way to join other writers in what is called Five Minute Friday’s:

Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt every Friday, and if you’ve signed up, the challenge is to write for five minutes about the topic. 

Here are her thoughts on this idea, which I loved, “We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday.  No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.  Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real.  It started because I’d been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.”

Don’t you just love this concept?

Those are just two examples, and then, recently on my own blog, I posted about having some difficulty getting this latest book off the ground, (Polishing A Turd…what a title for a post huh?) and another writer suggested “speed write.”

Since I’ve seen this mentioned even more times than the examples I have above, I figured there must be something to it.  And, I’m all for a new idea or a new way around a problem.

I’ve used it a few times now, and it hasn’t necessarily produced the best work, but there are pieces worth keeping.  If you’re stuck or finding it hard to get past a certain point in your story, it’s better than just sitting there, fingers poised above the keyboard, a blank look on your face, and an hour later, you’re still like that, as if someone came in and poured Plaster Of Paris all over you. 

Have you tried this and, most importantly, how did it work out for you? 



I find “speed writing” for me happens when I do emails, letters, or other pieces of correspondence wich are free from my editing and perfectionism inclination. It has actually produced some really good copy-and-paste-ready passages for me. Give it a try. 🙂


    Thanks AP, I’ve found myself caught up in what must be just that a couple times over the past day or so…trying not to stop and EDIT… (argh!) I guess it takes practice and discipline.


What’s seems odd to me is that at night when I write I do light edits as I go and leave the final stuff until the next morning. If I’m writing first copy in the morning it’s usually speedy fingers and synapses firing on all cylinders. (Caffeine maybe?) The morning stuff is written so quickly that the edits are merely typos, while at night; they require a more full bodied hand. (Tired maybe?) I’m definitely more humorous in the morning. Night work…I have to go back in and insert light-hearted humor.
I timed myself yesterday after reading your post. I took off with an idea and in ten minutes I wrote 609 words, (I just checked), and the copy is not bad. I’ll edit it down to 500 and probably use it…somewhere.
All I know is if I did final edits as I go my mind would bog down as if I were writing in sludge.


    I really think there’s something to this…like the link I provided above from Lisa Jo Baker, and where she mentions “how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words.” And to that point, the difference between your a.m. and p.m. writing might be some proof right there.


I remember teachers using this in school and then hearing it talked about at workshops among other teachers. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it though. I’m one of those people who edit as I write. I’ve never had a complete rough draft of a research paper throughout my two degrees. I sit down two nights before a due date and just start writing, editing as I go. So when I’m done, whatever is there is the final draft. (Profs hated is because they wanted the notecards and outlines.) But I don’t think I’ve ever done this speed writing…not editing as I go would be such a hard thing not to do.


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