Writing Tip: Tortoise vs. Hare

When it comes to writing anything of length, it’s good to set a consistent pace as a guide for momentum.  Perhaps you’re an athlete at the keyboard and your fingers can pound out 200wpm; or more likely, if you’re like me, it’s a fraction of that speed (a small fraction).  I have to remind myself that speed doesn’t matter…quality does.

If I don’t have much time to write, but can find any brief moment in my day, I tend to set a one-page goal to accomplish.  It’s not much and can feel like being a tortoise instead of a hare, but it’s momentum nonetheless and can prevent stagnation.  Yet I do find that once I’ve accomplished a single page, the momentum can reinforce motivation and I tend to keep going for a few to several more pages.  But it all starts with a simple goal: just one page today.

Of course the flip-side is simply if I can only get one darn page in, then I’ve accomplished my goal and continued the pace.  It’s good.  I can move on and let the rest of my day take it’s course.  Sound crazy?  It works.

In the past I’ve also tried the speed route: trying to get in as much as humanly possible; to write that book and get it done–posthaste!  Truth be told, I encourage other writers not to race.  It may work for a lucky few who have the skills of courtroom transcribers, but for the most part it will burn out even the heartiest writer and cause a white-hot idea to fizzle.  Whenever I’ve done this, everything crumbles for me and the project ends up being scrapped because I end up tired, unmotivated, and the quality is less than acceptable.

So for all of you writers out there: don’t be afraid to be the tortoise.  Writing’s not a race; the only way any writer wins is not by finishing quickly, but finishing well.

Categories: On Writing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Writing Tip: Tortoise vs. Hare

  1. Very good advice. ~ Dennis

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