Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Type Fast

It's true. I type really fast. At the height of my typing prowess, I once clocked about 90 words per minute. I think I might have been past 100 wpm, but my memory is kind of foggy on the details, so who knows. But anyway, the point is that I type really fast, and it's not at all unusual for people to say, "Boy, you type fast" when they first hear or see me type.

Typing fast makes my job as a freelancer possible. There are lots of times when, as a freelancer, you're not really "writing" so much as copying quotes, reinterpreting data or paraphrasing. In these situations, typing fast is a Godsend. I'm not quite sure how much this little skill is worth to me in terms of hard dollars, but it's definitely worth something.

Here's the problem: I used to think that because I typed fast, I also wrote fast.

Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

In fact, I don't write fast at all. I can generate a lot of words quickly, but in terms of finished product? Not fast. I might have to revise 45 times, and lately, I've gotten in the habit of STOPPING WRITING when I hit a scene I'm unsure of and just sitting on it and thinking. Then thinking some more. So before I start typing at all, there might be 3 or 4 days worth of thought in that scene. Not quick when you're talking about 500 words.

This idea that I write fast—persistent as it was—has been a pretty major stumbling block for me because it was all wrapped up in pride and didn't allow much room for revisions. My second novel was 120,000 words. I wrote (typed) it in 7 weeks. Some days I cranked out 5,000 or 7,000 words. Problem was, the novel was dreck. I often say that part of my evolution as a writer has been developing my process, but I think what I really mean is that I've been discovering what kind of writer I ACTUALLY am, as opposed to what kind of writer I THINK I am.

So ... what do you think? Are you holding onto any beliefs about yourself as a writer that might 1) be untrue and 2) actually holding you back? Tough question, right? Because answering that question is half the battle when it comes to becoming a better writer.

4 comments:

Melanie Avila said...

Well this is just weird. I, too, type fast, to the point where people stop and comment. I, too, do not always WRITE fast, even though I think I do. My writing comes in sentence-long spurts -- whole paragraphs if I'm lucky -- then I sit there thinking until the next spurt.

Natasha Fondren said...

I used to write fast. 5K-10K a day. Even that is still not as fast as I type. But I want the 5K-10K a day back. Maybe I'd do an extra edit now, but...

I don't seem to be that way now, but I keep thinking that if I just focus correctly, I'll get it back. I mean, I'm writing fiction full-time. And then I beat myself up at the end of the day for being unproductive.

As you can see, this is real healthy. It's been real motivating, too, let me tell you. I don't know how to get out of that circle.

LurkerMonkey said...

Melanie,

Sounds familiar ... naturally.

LurkerMonkey said...

Natasha,

Sounds like you've hit slumpsville. I hope you can pull out soon. I hate that feeling. When it's gotten really bad, I've switched projects.