Writing Faster

forrester1One of my favorite films about writing is Finding Forrester, which stars Sean Connery as William Forrester, a reclusive writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for his one novel then disappeared and Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace, an African-American high school student with a gift for writing.   On dare, Jamal tries to steal something from Forrester’s apartment but leaves his backpack behind when he escapes in a hurry.  Upon recovering his backpack, Jamal discovers that Forrester has read his writing in a notebook that was in the backpack and marked it up with edits.  Forrester becomes Jamal’s reluctant writing teacher, a reluctance that dissipates as he discovers the boy’s talent.  In one of my favorite scenes, Forrester sits Wallace down at an old typewriter to teach him to write from the heart.

When Jamal sits at the typewriter thinking, Forrester tells him, No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!  In other words, Write Fast.

I’ve talked about forced writing here on Older Eyes (in Write Now) as a means of breaking though writer’s block and I’ve talked about Writing Fast as part of the journaling method, Morning Pages,  prescribed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.   But just as Writing Fast can keep your inner censor from interfering with honest journaling, it can keep your inner critic fromwriting pen taking over your writing … and your inner critic is an agent of your head, not your heart.  But, you say, writing is different than journaling … my novel has a plot, my essay has a point to make.   That’s where planning or outlining comes in.  An excellent article on Freelance Switch by Tara Hornor titled 10 Tips for Writing Faster Without Quality Loss says, If you are like me, then one of your greatest hindrances to writing fast is feeling the need to edit while you go. Avoid this at all costs! Once you’ve created your outline, force yourself to keep writing until you’ve filled in most of the blanks, with the exception of extra research you may need. Reserve these sections needing research until after you’ve laid down a solid foundation.  I’d also suggest that when your mind won’t find that perfect choice of words, don’t stop and think … type a blank.   The word will turn up later, I promise.   Horner also suggests closing your browser or even turning off your monitor.  With my typing skills, I’m afraid turning off my monitor would result in word salad but the point is, eliminate distractions.

Horner’s Tip Number 10, Practice Makes Perfect, is, to my mind, crucial.   Writing fast does not come naturally for most people.  We are taught to engage our heads in the process and the head doesn’t disengage without a fight.  Writing fast takes practice.  That’s where Morning Pages have served me well … not only did I get to know myself better, writing fast became a habit.   But however you do it, give Writing Faster a try.  You may find yourself saying to yourself what Forrester says to Jamal when he starts pounding away on the keyboard.  Now, you’re writing, Dogg.

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6 Comments on “Writing Faster”

  1. photosbyandy Says:

    I really enjoyed that movie myself. However, I wouldn’t classify myself as a writer.

  2. cherperz Says:

    I, also liked the movie, Finding Forrester. Writing fast is really difficult for me. Everything takes a lot of thought for me to organized what I want to say. I think some people are just talented writers….that is ….their ability to express thoughts with words is superior to others. I am not a strong writer but I appreciate those that are.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Truth: it is difficult for everyone at first. I really believe that writing faster comes with practice … as does “better” writing … and that while ability sometimes limits us, more often, we limit us by letting our inner critic get in our way.

  3. territerri Says:

    I feel as if I’ve written well when I hit the publish button and experience a great sense of satisfaction. But it seems like those times are rare for me. I know that one of my biggest hindrances to really immersing myself in writing is all the noise and activity going on in my household. I don’t have a place in which to escape and shut myself off from the life taking place in my house. I know you often escape to your park to be alone with your writing. I need to find something that works for me!

  4. Rick Gleason Says:

    Wow! Another home run! Finding Forrester is also among my favorite movies.

    You should be in the classroom Bud teaching this stuff. But I know retirement is a wonderful life-style. Have you given any thought to teaching?

    Thanks once again for a great post!


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