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Sacha Chapin on writing faster

Humans are naturally sense-making, story-telling creatures. We’re wired to explain ourselves and the universe, to ourselves and to each other. We’re naturally ingenious fabulists, shrewd reporters, idiosyncratic word-painters. Basically all of us have this facility.

But this ability disappears when it’s subjected to excessive scrutiny. When we start reflecting at length on what kind of story we should tell, or what kind of writer we should be, we become lost in the sea of data our senses provide us, and lose the brio of playfulness. It’s like how when you think about how you’re walking, you start walking stupid. You’ve just got to trust that you know what you’re doing: that, as a sense-making creature, you will largely make sense.

When you’re talking to a trusted lover or friend, you’re receiving constant signals that you are an acceptable human doing an acceptable thing—comforting facial expressions, and so on. By contrast, your laptop is inhospitable environment. There’s no evidence that your laptop loves and trusts you… …

However, there’s one way of defeating the inner censor that’s reliable. Just outrun it. If you’re writing 500 words in an hour, there’s just no time for paralyzing cogitation. I wrote this in about 25 minutes, and then I revised it in another 5 minutes. If I’d done it a little faster it probably would’ve been a little better. I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t know you. You make me afraid. But I drowned out the sound of my fear with the sound of my keyboard, and that got me, at the very least, to this last sentence.

Sacha Chapin – Write Faster

See also:

Quality as a function of quantity
Setting the bar low
Haruki Murakami on running and writing

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