It’s No Sin to Write Fast

It's No Sin to Write Fast
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How You Can Be a More Productive Writer

I have a quote on my corkboard. It says, “If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it badly.”

That’s gallows humor for writers, yet it still has the ring of truth. No writer started by writing well. Writing is equal parts art and craft; you must make mistakes before becoming a good writer. I call that “failure-based learning.”

So, starting out as a writer, you must enjoy writing badly for a while until you gain expert skills. Don’t stop writing. Just be kind to yourself as you progress. Maintain a constant vigil on your writing process so you can prove it. How do you know you have “made it.” I discuss that in this video.

God looks at you as a work-in-progress (Philippians 1:6). You should look at your writing skills similarly. Christians must write their best and fastest to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16). Christian writers should want to be prolific writers. That comes with the calling we have.

It’s No Sin to Write Fast

There is a myth that you can only write quality material if you write slow. The opposite is true; slow writing often results in sloppy work. Or worse, a writing project goes on so long that the writer never finishes it. They become weary in their well-doing.

Quality and quantity go hand-in-hand. They are not mutually exclusive, as many slow writers like to think.

Anyone can learn to write quality books or blog posts in record time. It takes three main ingredients:

  • A desire to do it. If you mistakenly believe that writing slow and quality go together, you will always be a slow writer. You must change your attitude before improving your writing speed and quality.
  • An understanding of how the human brain works. God gave us a finely-created instrument and planted it between our ears. But most Christians don’t understand how it works, so they do not allow their creative brain to function as designed.
  • A plan of action. Far too many Christian writers think God will hit them with a lightning bolt of inspiration when they sit down to write. That’s not the way it works. The Lord is constantly feeding our brains with scripture, relationships, experiences, and media (books, films, etc.); those are the seedlings for all we write. The best and fastest writing organizes these assets in advance.

Here is a harsh truth. Writers are natural-born excuse-makers. They will tell you they have “writer’s block” and make up any other falsehood to excuse their laziness. Another way of expressing that lack of mental and spiritual fortitude is to write slowly.

We all naturally want to blurt out our stories just as we did when we got home from school as kids. Smothering that kind of reflexive expression, for real or imagined reasons, is a barrier that will not serve you well as a Christian writer.

 No One Wrote a Great Book the First Time

Here’s an important fact that most aspiring Christian writers don’t understand. That is, virtually ALL your writing will be rubbish when you start. There are no exceptions to that reality. Writing is both an art and a craft; it takes time to learn both.

My dear departed mother kept my first wood shop project from when I was in Junior High, and I have it yet today. It was a lamp in the shape of a rustic wagon wheel. When I was thirteen, I labored over it under the guidance of my shop teacher for months, both the woodwork and the electrical connection. When I completed it, I proudly presented it to my mom.

I look at that lamp today and I laugh out loud. I remember envisioning it as a great piece of craftsmanship while making it, but I had no perspective and no experience, and it was a feeble attempt at woodworking. My mom said she would keep the lamp on a shelf in her bedroom so she could see it “anytime she wanted.” Of course, it was an eyesore, and looking back, I applaud her for shielding me from that brutal reality.

Yes, that lamp was rubbish, just like my first attempts at writing, and just like your first attempts too. Writing well and fast comes when you learn to write in the correct productive way and then do a lot of it to hone your craft.

No one sat down and wrote a great book on purpose. Great books, fiction, and nonfiction emerged from a mind that understands the writing process, discards bad writing habits, and seeks to learn and improve every step of the way.

A Wounded Mind Will Slow You Down

What keeps writers from writing fast and writing well? A wounded mind slows them down. The chief wound is perfectionism.

Many writers become perfectionists. So they write slowly, edit as they write, and sabotage themselves in that process. Some see perfectionism as a virtue, but it is a kind of delusion that can only harm writers.

Most perfectionists don’t realize that there is nothing praiseworthy about their perfectionism. In fact, it is a mental health issue linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and high anxiety levels. Perfectionists tend to shrug off their disorder as “being the way I am,” but it can become a severe problem that needs professional treatment.

Albert Einstein understood the delusional nature of perfectionism. He said, “There is nothing known as “Perfect.” It’s only those imperfections which we choose not to see.”

Perfectionism is a spiritual problem for Christian writers. It implies two things. First, they can be sinless in their life and endeavors, which is invalid. The Bible teaches that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and we are to confess them and move on (1 John 1:9). We accept our imperfections and vow to do better in the future.

NFL football coach Vince Lombardi had a healthy approach to perfectionism that will help you quickly write quality books and blog posts. He said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

How to Write Faster

Here are some techniques to help you write high-quality books and blog posts at record speed.

Change the way you think about the writing process

All writers should attempt to write the first draft as fast as possible. Make word count your standard, not the amount of time you have to write daily. Many people allocate an hour or two per day but stare at a black page most of the time. Having a word count goal is better. Anyone can write 1,667 words per-day with practice.

That means you can write a blog post in one sitting or a 50,000-word book in 30 days. I commonly write 2,000-5,000 words before noon each day, and anyone who cares enough about their craft can learn to do the same.

Understand that you NEVER revise as you write

You write your first draft as fast as possible, warts and all. As a distinct second stage, you come back and modify your work. You add and delete words and smooth your prose.

Successful 2oth century novelist James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” When do you revise? I say only after you have completed the first complete draft of your manuscript because that’s when you have the most significant perspective on your work. Others say at the end of each chapter. Still others say at the end of each writing day. The point is that you never revise as you write. It is a totally different process done at a different time.

By the way, editing and revision are different. Send your best revision to a Developmental editor for evaluation before you do your final revision. You only do copy editing (or have it done) after you have completed your final revision. Copy editing is the last step immediately before publication.

To write fast, you must feed your brain before you sit down to write

Reading is essential to your research, but it plays a more significant role for writers who want to write fast, quality material. That is, reading the best writers expands your consciousness about how you can make your writing better.

Reading widely also enables your brain to make creative connections you never thought possible. You may read a nonfiction book on growing tomatoes. As you write your romance novel, you have a scene where the lover and beloved sensually discuss the tenderness required for tomatoes to mature. Your writing becomes richer and more nuanced as a result of reading widely. This is not magic. This is how God engineered our brains and is how we all function. It is called the “synaptic process.”

Have a plan

No one can write off the top of their head for very long. You must plot a path to your destination in advance. You check your map to continue on that path when your brain begins to fade. In fact, you don’t even need to write in sequence when you have a map. You can hop around and flesh out the tricky bits later.

I have worked with many hundreds of writers. It is my studied opinion that the idea of being a “pantser” is illusionary. You cannot write with consistency, speed, and quality if you expect ideas to come to you as your fingers hit your keys. Yes, some outliers say they can do it, but if what they say is true, they are working against brain science.

Your brain wants to organize the content you write before you start writing. It does not like to be constantly making snap creative decisions. This process of feeding your brain collected, organized material is called “cognition.” Cognition is defined as “the mental  process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses, and using it to guide behavior.”

Clear your mind of distractions, and simply write

Don’t pause to research, revise, or do anything else. Once you are in the writing zone, high-quality prose will flow from your mind at a rapid rate. You do not want to second-guess what is happening; you just want to let the words flow from your mind to the page.

Summary

You are probably not a productive writer because you are a fearful writer. You are worried about what others might think. Christian writers can put that kind of fear into the hands of the Lord and forget it (Luke 14:27).

Writing is hard work, and it always has an element of discouragement. Write Isaiah 41:10 on a card and place it in your writing notebook or near your computer screen. Know God is with you and will give you the wings you need to finish your writing project quickly.


Helpful post? Please share it with other Christian writers.

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