Friday, March 25, 2011

write slow or write fast?

I've been reading an interesting book lately The Writing Workshop Note Book by Alan Ziegler, who's on the faculty of Columbia University's Creative Writing program. The book includes quotes and information on creating, writing, language, revising, workshopping, editing and more. One discussion that caught my attention was about the speed of writing. At one point Ziegler says

It takes skill to work slowly. When I was in graduate school, a classmate complained, "I wrote for five hours today and only got one paragraph."

I replied: "I'm not a good enough writer yet to do that."

Clearly there are two different approaches to writing: slow or fast.

For example, here are some more quotes related to writing:

  • If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. --Isaac Asimov
  • Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.--the movie Finding Forrester
  • Don't get it right, just get it written.--James Thurber

Personally, I think there's something to be said for getting the first draft finished without getting bogged down by your internal editor/nay-sayer.

So, how about you? Do you write slow or write fast?


  1. I am as slow a writer as I am a reader, but I've managed to up my word count to average 1500 words a day over the past five years.

    Not nearly what many writers get down on the page for the amount of time I'm spending at the computer (5-6 hrs.), but I have a tendency to rewrite as I go--something I picked up from my SHU critique partner Mary SanGivoanni.

    It's worked well for me so far while writing my first three novels, and I'm hoping to keep pushing that daily word count until one year I can double it.

    Great question!

    I'm anxious to see how other writers respond.

    Now I'm off to work on those 1500 words for today...


  2. Thanks for sharing, heidi. Your method sounds great.
    I must admit if I try to write well, I get too bogged down and don't write anything. So, I tell myself "it's only a first draft, just get it down, you can make it pretty later." Thus, I fall into the fast category. I know every writer's different!