Why Writing Faster Also Means Writing Better…
So, how’s that book coming?
Let me guess. It’s not done.
How long have you been working on it?
A few months? A year? Over a year?
My first book took me over 3 years, and you know what? It was horrible. (and it wasn’t even that long, only 35k.)
Sure, I had all kinds of excuses why it took me so long; I work full time, I still want to have fun, I want to see my family, genius can’t be rushed, and so on.
I even bought into the myth that great works take years.
But you want to know the truth? My book took three years for the same reason it was awful; I had no clue what I was doing. Sure, I’d read books on writing, taken online classes, even taken a certain class that was supposed to be ‘the best.’
But nothing helped.
Then I discovered something that changed my life.
It was an article in a magazine called “Psychology Today” (Yes, I do read that, and no, I’m not any kind of therapist. I just feel that knowing all the ways the human mind can go wrong helps with stories, at least the kind I write.)
It said that the human brain makes new cells at regular intervals, the same way it makes new skin cells. These new brain cells have no function when they are born, and wait for us to tell them what to do. This is why our resolve weakens. The old brain cells that had the resolve died off and these new brain cells showed up. If we tell these new brain cells what to do (such as doing a task even when we don’t feel like doing it,) then our motivation stays. If not, then we feel unfocused and lost. (At least until the next new batch of brain cells show up.)
It turns out this is the reason why a book that takes too long to write doesn’t flow well. When a book takes you years to write, you’re literally a different person each time you try to finish this story. So why should it make any sense at all?
This taught me the importance of writing every day, even when I don’t feel like it.
Writing your first draft as quickly as possible ensures that your story stays coherent and needs less editing on future passes.
The problem was the first book of 35k took me 3 years, and it wasn’t even that good.
I knew I’d never accomplish all my writing dreams if I let my brain move at this pace. I needed a better way.
Systems are predictable ways that something works every time. Now of course, there is no ‘system’ for writing a bestseller. That’s a combination of skill, hard work, marketing and dash of luck.
But there are systems for creating compelling characters, plotting out your story, world building and all those other fiddly but fun parts that give an author so much joy when they work and so much pain when they don’t.
Using systems means they always work, which gives you more time to enjoy the creative part of writing and unleash the story inside your head. (as opposed to the one on the page which probably doesn’t match.)