Monday, January 10, 2011

Moving at the Speed of Write

Post by Jenny

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate my husband (who is also a loyal reader of my blogs and an all-around great guy) on 22 years of employment with the same company. Twenty-two years is pretty impressive, but the company’s longevity is even more so. It began manufacturing engine speed controls way back in 1870. In a nutshell, a speed control, or governor, keeps an engine working at a regular, and hopefully optimal, speed.

Humans have speed controls, too. I joke with my older son that he should probably not pursue a career as a firefighter or EMT because, other than sports, it’s difficult to get him to move with any sense of urgency. By the same token, I know I tend to walk, talk, eat, clean, and do all those other repetitive activities, at the same pace.

This includes writing. And, just as I’m not a very fast runner (if you’re ever being chased by a bear, you want to have me with you), I’m also not a very fast writer. My typing speed is fine, my brain usually clicks along okay, but I reread a lot. I revise. I sit back and contemplate. I delete and rewrite the same thing and delete again.

I may not be as productive (in so very many ways) as Stephen King, who writes 2000 words every day. But I’m also not E.L. Doctorow, who said: "If I do one page I'm very happy; that's my day's work. If I do two, that's extraordinary. But there's always a danger to doing two, which is you can't come up with anything the next day."

So, what is the right speed to write? Unless a deadline is imminent—in which case I can ‘sprint’ if I have to—I don’t think there is one. Desire and dedication are more important. The idea is the sparkplug. The act of writing it keeps the engine going.

Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Likewise, a writer’s journey begins with a single word. Maybe your writing style is speedy like a Ferrari or putts along like a Model-T—the important thing is to keep going, one word after another, until you reach your destination. (Yes, you may stop for coffee and bathroom breaks. And if it helps to imagine a bear chasing you, that’s okay, too.)

What’s your ‘speed of write’?

5 comments:

Patti Struble said...

Jenny,
When I'm in; I'm all in. I can write 10-15 pages a day. But, when I'm in the dawn of a new tale, the writing is on the back forty while I get into the heads. Yes, I can crank the handle of the jack-in-the-box, but I also like to read, revise, repeat throughout the entire process.
Patti

Kimberly Franklin said...

Congrats to your hubby! Spending 22 years anywhere is an amazing feat.

Kay Theodoratus said...

I consider myself a plodder ... but I usually manage at least 500 words a day when I'm drafting a WIP. Revising is a different story, but I try to get at one chapter-a-sitting done.

Name: Luana Krause said...

I'm a procrastinator. Without a deadline, I won't finish anything. I simply cannot write if I'm not inspired (my personal, fun projects). For work, I have no problem writing fast and furious. When money's involved, it makes a difference.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm also a plodder and a procrastinator, but when I do sit down to write, I can lose all sense of time and write for hours.

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