One of the things I used to be really really ridiculously proud of was my ability to speed-write. I could pump out multiple thousands of words in a short amount of time. My biggest achievement still being that I managed to write an entire book in one day.
That book, however, was fuelled by anxiety. The client I was working for was paying me by the hour – but obviously didn’t realise how many hours writing a book takes (even if the book was only twenty-four thousand words in length.)
Upwork, the freelancer system I was using at the time, has a program which takes screenshots of your work every hour or so, to prove you are doing what you are saying you are doing.
As a result, every few hours the client was sent an update on what I was writing (with a picture – argh!) and every few hours, he would send a message to me saying something along the lines of ‘how much longer until you finish?’
Now, I am one of those people who like to do a good job. I would work really hard to please a client and keep them happy, so I picked up speed. I wrote and wrote, and got cramps in my fingers, and wrote and wrote.
I did it. Twenty-four hours is how long it took me to write a book. The client was happy. I was paid.
The book was awful but I felt like a writing GOD.
The next few books I wrote were written at a similar speed. This continued until I had to start wearing a wrist brace because I had pulled muscles in my hands from typing so fast.
But none of these books are ones that I can look back on with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
This time around, I’m taking things a bit slower. I’m adopting a turtle pace, instead of the rabbit. I’m thinking about characters, jokes, settings, plot.
I’d like to be able to write something that I can look back on and smile. I have stopped measuring my success on the number of words I can write per-day and more on the words I can write that I’m happy to leave on the page.