Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Go Speed Writer!!!

Last weekend was the Daytona 500. Hubby becomes all dreamy-eyed over cars. All kinds, but mainly fast cars. He longs to speed on a race track. Whereas I want to speed on my keyboard.

I love speed writing when I can do it.

Okay, I can imagine some of you are shaking your heads and thinking "I could never work that way." But hear me out. You might find that speed writing is something you would enjoy. As I see it speed writers must be able to block out distractions, streamline, and have no fear over sharing.

Block out distractions . . .
Distractions have been my speed bumps in my current WIP. I'll be motoring along, the story flowing very well, and then I hit a spot that needs research and the brakes go on. Now, I'm all for researching, but only to the point of finding what I need, and then I should drive right back on the race track. However, with this book I've had to pull in for a pit stop more times than I can count. First, I had to research ocean boats, waves, weather in Alaska, then planes, how to fly planes, bush pilots, and the list goes on and on. Researching is good, and I found some wonderful information, however, I must admit that I spent way too much time using research as my excuse for not writing. There are tons of other distractions as well: texting, phone calls, blogging, tweeting and the list keeps growing. Speed writers need to keep the finish line in mind as they write and not let distractions cause a pileup. (Talk about a pileup, you should see the wreck on my desk.)

Streamlining . . .
Knowing what's important to your story and keeping unnecessary scenes and tangents from slipping in is something speed writers learn quickly. Sometimes they are tempted to go off the road and take a different route, but they rapidly learn that by doing so will lead to a dead-end, or in other words . . . writer's block. A writer needs to make fast judgments of what is central to the story and what will help them cross that finish line. I remember a friend told me she has a sign in her office that says "keep it simple." It serves as a reminder to stay on track and focus on key points so she can remain on cruise control.

Sharing . . .
I know many writers who won't share their work until they think it is perfect. There are several flaws in this logic. For one thing, nothing is perfect. I don't care how long you work and work on your pages there are going to be errors. Another problem with this logic is the writer becomes too invested in what they've written and are not flexible enough to make corrections that will fuel a stronger story. Yet another logic problem with the perfection plan is that waiting until your work is perfect will take forever while you write and rewrite. Sharing what you've written in the rough stage opens the door to making your book the best it can be because you're looking for help instead of seeking praise for perfection. You have to show your flaws, but remember we all have them and your writing group is there to help you.

I love speed writing and getting the story out, so I can roll up my sleeves and edit.  Many believe that editing is where the true writing happens. Of course, the speeding slows considerably during edits. And that checkered flag really doesn't wave for a writer until the book goes to print.

Okay, now it's your turn. Tell me if you're a speed writer or if it is something you'd like to try.


  1. I am definitely a speed-writer.

    In fact, I'm so fast that my reactions are too slow and I miss the turn.


  2. I write until the first draft is finished, then I edit. Unless I need the figure out something immediately in order to continue the story, at research spots I write in bold caps RESEARCH GREEK FOOD or whatever it is so I can go back to it later.

    Loved your analogy here! My husband also loves cars, and he goes to a track to "race" his motorcycle.

  3. Misha,
    I know what you mean. I've had to turn back and pick up a word or two here and there, but it's all good. :)

  4. Thanks, Laura!

    I'm going to have to try the all cap note thing and see if I can push through to the end of this book. The problem is, the research sometimes takes the story in a better direction than what I'd planned. But I'm to the point I need to forge ahead and just finish.

    My nephew races his motorcycle, too. Now that's scary racing. Give me the keyboard any day.

  5. Oh yes, definitely. It's the only way that works for me. If I dawdle too much, I don't get the words out!

  6. Talli,
    I'm glad I'm not alone. I can dawdled a couple of hours away on research. Never a good thing.:)

  7. I actually love the speed writing concept. Here is why. I think that when I have a lot of time to prepare for something, then there is a lot of pressure involved. But when I have to pick up something on the spur of the moment and do my best with it... then I put my creativity into overdrive. I remember being in the Academic Decathlon in high school in the Public Speaking category. They would give a topic, then give you five minutes to decide what to say, and then give a three-minute speech on that topic. I completely dominated in that category, because I was great at using that five minutes of thought time to see the big picture, and then wowing during the three minutes. When you only have a short amount of time, you can really pull out all the stops. I love it!

  8. Victoria,
    So true! Thanks for sharing your experience. I love to pull out all the stops when I'm writing my first drive. It's very freeing. Thanks for stopping by.



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