Peggy Bechko: At The Speed of Writing

speed-racer_go_logoby Peggy Bechko

Have you ever just sat around and thought about your writing? I know, I know, you’re busy, you have lots of stuff to write and little time to get it written.

But seriously, sometimes if we just step back a few paces and give ourselves time to evaluate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, things could flow a lot easier.

I’m not advocating in depth analysis, but rather, taking a deep breath and having a look around.

Generally stories aren’t written in a day – well unless you’re thinking of Isaac Asimov, one of the big three science fiction writers of the twentieth century. He published over 500 books including novels, short story collections and non fiction. That feat made him one of the most prolific writers of all time.

Maybe he DID write a book in a day. Don’t know who can top that though I’m sure eventually someone will come along. He was asked by Writer’s Digest magazine some time back for the secret to his prolific writing. What was his answer? Well, Asimov said, “I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.” Hmmm, okay.

But let’s face it, his method, his pace of writing isn’t the norm and not for everyone. Each writer is different in his or her approach. Some write books in a year, others take years to write a book.

Ray Bradbury was another believer in fast writing. He said, “The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. “ Well, he said more than that, among them that if he had six hours to live he’s just write faster, but you get the drift.

So it seems that writing at a fast pace FOR YOU might be a good thing to experiment with. But again, let me emphasize, the FOR YOU. Experimenting with what you consider to be a brisk pace, not what someone tells you it should be.

The other thing is that these days there is more and more need for content, for faster production. Demands on writers. And when screenwriting, speed is usually a pretty good idea. Once you come up with your high concept, an idea you’re sure who’s time has come, you better get it down on paper and registered.

If you write content for blogs then you have deadlines. If you write anything at all you probably set your own internal deadlines.

We all write to be read, so it’s okay to take a step back occasionally, to play around, to experiment with which methods work best for us.

One little thing that helps me is keeping my finger off the backspace key. Yep, weird as that sounds. I read the advice somewhere some time back and it really does help. I have to consciously do it; remind myself not to backspace when writing and leave the changes until later – all the changes. It saves time, keeps me moving forward and has been the salvation of some particularly good phrases that might have been lost had my finger hit that backspace with the vigor it had in the past.

So take a short break and consider your methods. Experiment. I spoke here mostly about speed, but upon consideration that might not be right for you. Or, upon further reflection you may decide to go for Asimov’s record.

Be the writer you want to be ~ using the methods that are right for you.

One thought on “Peggy Bechko: At The Speed of Writing”

  1. Over the years — and more years than I care to recall — I’ve learned that “wrilting pace”, or “speed”, or whatever you want to call it, has little to do with “writing”. And nothing to do with success at becoming a writer. ‘WRITERS. REAL WRITERS’ write to tell their story. Is it better to write a page a minute that means nothing. Or a screenplay a year that gets made. No ones going to buy your script because you wrote it in a week. While on the other hand if it takes you 3 months to write a page — It better be a damn good page, or maybe you should take up another career. ‘ACTING’ perhaps, directing, even producing. But SCREEN WRITING.
    THE ART OF SCREEN WRITING, is based on telling a story that people are not only willing to spend an hour (more or less) in a seat to watch, but also pay a good price to sit there!

    Having been doing this for 50+ years, I’m convinced that the most important thing about our kind of writing is to write a story an audience of some sort or other WANTS TO SEE! Not only see, but feel, swallow, take home inside their body, and live with if not forever then at least a week or two, and that even years later can say, “Yes! I remember seeing that!” So I suggest you forget about how long it takes to write your play, screenplay, TV episode, etc., and write the best story you can based on your talent, skill, desire, passion, love of make-believe. Now go to work. gs

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