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Writing fast can be the key to becoming an author, publishing a book

January 11, 2013

It took me about two years to write my first book. Like many young writers, my first novel was a coming of age story, and I was careful about getting everything just the way I wanted. Naturally, I wrote slow. It was a painstaking process, with lots of starts and stops. I went about the task then of contacting literary agents to see if anyone was interested in publishing my magnum opus. Well, to make a long story short, I didn’t find that agent who was willing to sign me to a six-figure publishing deal and allow me to quit my day job. In fact, I didn’t find any agent willing to take me on.

Not long after I finished that first book, I took a writing workshop that promoted the idea of writing fast. This didn’t sit well with me. At the time I couldn’t imagine trying to write a book by furiously writing down words as fast as they came into my head. I mean, who wrote like that? 

A few more years went by, and I finished a couple of more manuscripts, neither of which were published. I remembered the man who taught that workshop, how he had everyone in the room closing their eyes and meditating before taking up their pens and scribbling their thoughts onto paper. Perhaps he was onto something.

Jack Kerouac: A proponent of the fast-writing method

The Internet age arrived, and I found some of his books espousing this stream of consciousness method. I was still hesitant. His ideas seemed to New Age, too out there. Besides, I was a journalist, used to crafting my sentences in a slow, meticulous manner so as to ensure I got everything right. Should I try this other way? I agonized about it – a lot.

Eventually, I did abandon my own methods of writing a book in the slow, plodding manner of which I’d become accustomed and embraced the fast writing concept. 

They say insanity is doing the same things over and over again and getting the same unsuccessful results. How about you?


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  1. Head’s up. I think your blog is pretty awesome. I’ve nominated your for The Versatile Blogger award. Check it out. Here’s my link:

  2. I could not agree more — and I agree that it takes time to learn this lesson!

    I think people underestimate the value of writing fast. The faster you write, the more intuitively you connect with the speed of your thoughts (which move much more quickly than your fingers).

    Here’s a tip for new writers: First, map out (loosely) WHAT you want to write. Then write as fast as you can. THEN go through and make it solid. I wrote a book called Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed in just 2 months that way. I subsequently wrote over a million (polished) words in one year.

    The only thing to always remember is that no one cares how fast a book was written — they only care how fast it READS. So don’t forget to polish up those quickly-written words before sending it out into the world. Mike, I think your experience as a journalist and perfectionist made that intuitive for you, but it’s an important thing to remind new writers of — it’s another lesson that takes time to learn.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Righto … and well said. So remember folks, edit, but not during the first draft. During that initial draft process, don’t even read back what you wrote the previous day beyond the last few paragraphs. Otherwise, you may find yourself editing and thinking too much when you write that first draft.

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