Winning the Writing Race

How fast do you write? Why? Have you ever asked yourself this?

Many writers feel bad because they are too slow, but how fast you write depends on a number of factors.

For example, a part of your speed of composition depends on something as mechanical as typing speed. I know some “hunt-and-peck” writers who have never bothered to learn to type. To me, this seems inexcusable.

On the other hand, people who gained strong piano skills when they were young often type very fast. I have one friend who studied to be a concert pianist when he was young, and he could type a story at an amazing 200 words per minute. I literally sat in a room one morning and worked on a story while he went running, composed a story in his head, then came back and typed it out in seventeen minutes. A day later he sent it into a magazine, sold it, and it ended up being a finalist for the Nebula Award.

Me, I type at a more sedate pace.

I know other writers that I call “idea people.” These are people who rely on strong plotting and scene construction skills. If they’re writing contemporary fiction, they don’t need to worry too much about creating fascinating new worlds or dealing with accents, and so they can generally compose a story very quickly. They just need a good idea.

But if you’re a wordsmith, you will write much more slowly. You could be spending long minutes or even hour brainstorming your metaphors, or making sure that every word is just the perfect word, or speaking your sentences as you check the poetic sensibilities of a piece.

Whether you’re an idea person or a wordsmith, neither approach is “better.” There are plenty of writers who emphasise their storytelling skills—people whose genius lies in plotting a work, creating fascinating characters, coming up with great twists, and controlling the emotional symphony that can be a story. Some of these writers compose quickly and don’t worry too much about the prose on a line by line basis. These people can crank out three or four novels in a year and make a lot of money. The thriller and romance fields are full of them.

Other writers want to create a strong and distinct voice for each character and really bring each scene to life. These writers struggle to immerse the reader in their world. And while they often aren’t as fast as some storytellers, their works often seem—at least to me—to be more powerful.

If you’re not a blazing fast writer, you can still turn out an amazing amount of work. Recently I heard of a writer who bragged that he was a “plodding” writer who worked at a notoriously slow speed, but he did it for eight hours a day. At that rate, even if he only composed at a rate of two pages per hour, he’d still get 16 pages per day—which is fast enough that he could write the first drafts of 14 novels in a year, and still take time off for a couple of holidays!

I don’t know about you, but this gives me some comfort. On paper, it sounds like I ought to get a half dozen novels done this year and still have time for rewrites.


Online Workshops Closed – We will be temporarily closing the online workshops for the next two months while David gets some writing done.

Storytelling as a Fine Art (Live Workshop) – Aug. 1st – 5th, Layton, Utah.
Most authors want to do more than just make money. They’re struggling to communicate their thoughts beautifully. But how do you do that in a story?  In this workshop, Dave would like to create an intimate environment where individual students will receive ample time for one-on-one interaction and critiques. Dave will be spending personal time with each student. Because of that, we will be strictly limiting the number of students allowed to attend to 10. Register today and save your spot.

Writing Enchanting Prose (Live Workshop) – Sept. 25th – 29th, Dallas, Texas.
In this workshop we will work heavily on imbuing your prose with the richness and details that bring a story to life. The goal is to teach you how to fully transport readers as you take them on a journey that captivates their hearts and minds. David Farland will teach you how to totally transport you readers so that they become so immersed in your story, they forget where they are—they forget they are reading at all.

Shout-out to my friend Kristy Eagar who recently had her first fiction sale–and it’s professional. She sold “Elder Daughter,” a lovecraftian teen romance short story to Cicada Magazine. Congrats, Kristy!

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