Speed reading—that I do, especially if the book is fiction. Between writing and some side teaching, I could read a book in one sitting. It takes me a longer time to read non-fiction though. I go back to passages I like, highlighting and reflecting on them.
But speed writing? I am not in the fast lane.
Present! was for millennials and was meant to be short.
I let concepts swim in my head for sometime. I conduct a focus group discussion (FGD) with target readers. Then when I finally assault my keyboard, I pause now and then to chew over them, reading my Bible and references—checking facts and grammar rules—and reviewing books already written about the topic.
After finishing the first draft, I tweak it maybe a hundred times. Then I throw the hard copy inside a drawer to hibernate for at least a week while I tackle other books. When I return to it, I find all the “errors” that should have been clearer, fresher, and more interesting. I change words, rewrite sentences, and transpose paragraphs. I ask at least five of my target readers to read and comment on it.
On to more polishing. Only when I am happy with it do I send it to my editor.
That’s why I was surprised when a friend posted on FB that he had just finished six chapters in one month! And he meant to finish the last six in another month! I asked him for tips on speed writing.
One was, “Learn to ride the proverbial inferior horse. Have a tolerance of what can be sent, not sloppy, but not polished to a high sheen . . . knowing that the publisher will edit it anyway. So why edit as you write?”
I pondered that.
Then I realized that after years of rigorous speed writing in advertising, I am now writing for the King and He allows me to enjoy the writing process, romancing it, relishing every step, and learning many new things along the way. I have chosen to take the slow lane. After all, deadlines are not tight. Where I came from, deadlines were: yesterday.
I had already overshot my quota for speed writing. Now, I slow down to savor the moment-by-moment grace of choosing words, stringing them, until the manuscript sings.
"Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? . . ." (Jeremiah 2:25 MSG)