I often hear authors and instructors encourage writers to write quickly. They say things such as:
- Just get your thoughts down.
- Produce a crappy first draft.
- Write first; edit later.
- Let your words spew forth without evaluation.
- Don’t do any editing until you finish your rough draft.
Their goal is speed
Given the number of people advocating such things, it seems this is how everyone should write. I comprehend the logic of this approach, but it doesn’t work for me—and it may not be right for you, either.
When I write, I write carefully. I compose a sentence, a paragraph, or more as the words flow. Then I pause. I take a pensive breath and write the next section with intention, repeating this process until I am done.
Then I read and fine-tune the completed piece. When the words are as I want them to be, I spell-check and then proofread using text-to-speech software. I do a final spellcheck, and I am done. This editing, tweaking, and proofing phase doesn’t usually take too much time.
My goal is quality—on the first pass
It may take me a bit longer to write, but there’s a lot less editing on the back end. I like that.
People who write quickly produce a rough draft; people who write carefully produce the first drafts. Rough drafts require a lot of editing; first drafts usually need much less.
I prefer to invest more time writing in order for editing to go faster. Overall, this quality first approach takes me less time.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.