It took me six hours in six days to write this post. It’s less than 430 words. That’s about 1.2 words per minute. Is there something wrong with me?
And that’s not counting the time I spent thinking about this article.
As of late it’s fashionable to write hell for leather. In fact, there’s a hot cottage industry in the writing culture. For lack of better terms, let’s’ call it the “The Hell-For-Leather Writing Movement.”
You see it in titles like “How to Write Fast,” “Write an Article in 20 Minutes,” and “How Fast Can You Write?” But it gets empirical with 5 Personal Writing Metrics Every Content Marketer Should Track by Nate Baker at Raven.
The genesis of his metrics is interesting: Baker noticed that he walked faster and longer as he tracked his miles with a FitBit. He then postulated: “If I track my writing, perhaps I’ll write faster and more often.”
His month-long experiment confirmed as much.
First blush and this is charming stuff. Speed up your writing production and you could write two articles a day instead of one … you could write two novels during November instead of one. Who wouldn’t want that?
Win for HFLWM.
After further reflection, though, you have to wonder: is this even a reasonable goal for a writer?
There is a temptation to say “yes” because of research like this: exceptional individual contributors set stretch goals and adopt high standards for themselves.
But we’ll address this research in a minute. Let’s deal with the problems behind Baker’s idea.
First off, it’s not even fair to compare walking to writing. They are two completely different activities. Walking is pretty basic. Step, stride, balance, repeat. Writing, on the other hand, is not.
If you want to compare a physical activity with writing best use ballet or boxing. Both require years of training for brief moments in the spotlight. Both are deemed art. It would be irresponsible to do either “faster.”
Don’t get me wrong: there is a place for writing fast. It’s located in your rough draft.
Or when you have more work than time. Writing more articles a day is just one stretch goal you could set, yet is that even a legitimate higher standard? Quantity of words?
Better yet: Is it clear? Concise? Compelling? Of course that takes time.
If procrastination is the issue, then set a deadline. And improve your typing speed. That will the get rough draft down on paper faster.
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