speed write techniques

Techniques for Speed Writing


Writing coaches such as Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg have utilized the practice of freewriting for decades.

The objective is to write as freely and quickly as possible. Writing instruction has not significantly liberated the writing process, for whatever reason. By virtue of the fact that it is "instruction," we are immediately conscious of all flaws and shortcomings as we put words and ideas on paper.

Even before our words are printed, we are "editing" them. We are concerned that we may not be expressing ourselves correctly, that we may not be using the appropriate argument, that our grammar is incorrect, or that we need to improve our spelling.

Consider the speaking process. Before speaking, we revise our words in consideration of our audience. Due to the fact that we have more time to edit when we are writing, the editing load is increased.

This results in writing that is dull, stilted, and dry. We are so concerned that we won't do things correctly that we submit work that is actually flawed, but the instructor, editor, or reader cannot pinpoint the error!

By practicing Freewriting every day, you will develop writing skills that are far superior to those of the majority of people and writers of your generation.

You will improve because you will have practiced writing down your thoughts, brief insights, and briefest moments of brilliance, and they will be there, on paper, so you can find what you're looking for later.

The most important aspect of Freewriting, however, is that it should never be edited, discussed, or evaluated. This is a vital point! You will defeat the purpose of the exercise if you edit it yourself, have someone else read it, and discuss it with you. You will lose the freedom of Freewriting because you will begin editing again when you realize that another person will be reading it.

There is ample time to edit later on. In fact, the finest writing is heavily edited, but only after the brilliance of your ideas has been captured during Freewriting sessions. Your writing becomes polished and ready for publication during the editing process. Your brilliance shines through during the Speedwriting and freewriting sessions. Despite the importance of both types of writing, you must realize that you cannot complete them simultaneously.

Here is your mission:

Five days per week, a freewriting assignment is due.

Every day, set aside time to practice freewriting. You can set a time limit or a page limit, but because you may have never practiced Freewriting for an extended period of time, you will now practice it five days per week.

For this exercise, obtain a cheap spiral-bound notebook; this will serve as your Freewriting Journal. As recommended by Peter Elbow, simply write the date at the top of the page, set a timer for ten minutes, and start writing. Ten full minutes of continuous writing! Never let your pen/pencil falter.

Particularly if you are a perfectionist, I recommend using a pen. Even though a pen allows for a single line through a misspelled word, it is preferable to continue writing the correct word immediately after the misspelled one and to keep going.

Granted, freewriting does not yield publication-ready prose that has been meticulously edited. However, a common piece of advice given to students is, "You cannot edit a blank page!" So, write something, use it for your project, and before you know it, you'll have plenty to edit and plenty to submit to your editor or instructor.

The most important thing to remember about the Freewriting exercise is that editing and writing cannot be performed simultaneously. Permit the creation of something, which you can then edit. Problems are caused by editing during the creation process.