More Haste, Less Speed is a phrase my mother loved to use when I was a child.
As I write stories for children, it is a phrase that often pops into my own head as well. I used to think that I needed to get everything done as quickly as possible.
My crowning achievement is a ghostwritten children’s novel of twenty-four-thousand words. I managed to write it in twenty four hours. At one thousand words an hour I felt like king of the hill.
After I finished that novel, I had to wear a wrist brace for a week because I pulled a muscle in my hand from typing so fast.
I’ve recently looked back on that novel. Long story short: it’s awful. Sure, I managed to reach my deadline, but it wasn’t quality work. That’s probably why the person who hired me to write it has given up on trying to sell it – it just wasn’t worth the binary code it was printed on.
It was a novel fuelled by fear of deadlines, pushing myself onward with stress. It was reflected in the writing. That was my first ever novel. I’ve learnt a lot since then.
Nowadays, when I am trying to write something, I take a moment to sit back and let the words find me. I don’t just power-write – although this is still a skill I can employ if I give myself plenty of time to edit later.
Writing can’t be rushed. It will arrive eventually – sometimes in a form you don’t expect – but speed isn’t the answer. You might find that if you give yourself some breathing room, you’ll get things done on time, and you’ll get things done well.
More haste, less speed!