Barbara and I are writing fast.
The usual way to write fast is to ‘speed write’. This often requires the use of timed sessions where the goal is to write as much as possible in the allotted minutes. Another approach to producing a fast first draft is to just literally empty your thoughts onto the page – sometimes referred to as vomiting words, a term I don’t much like for obvious reasons. Barbara and I are using a third approach – fast writing on the basis of a slow-cooked plan and a lot of pre-preparation.
Because we were able to spend time early on thinking about what we wanted to write, and in what order, we have been able to sort out the set of contents for each chapter. Those of you that have followed our book writing saga will know that in fact we changed our minds about what we were doing after our first week together. The plan now we have isn’t the same as the one we started out with. Our current plan is the result of quite a lot of thinking, and rethinking.
The plan we have for our chapters might seem to someone else to just be a relatively short, numbered bullet point list. Two mere pages of bullet points. However, the bullets must be understood as a set of reminders of the very lengthy conversations we’ve already had about what is to be covered and what should go where. Our two pages are the framework that now guides what we do. While we might change the order of a few points, or add, remove or shift the odd one here or there, this numbered list is basically a road map to our book.
And, because we’ve got the map, had slow conversations, and cooked some of our ideas over a very long period of time, we have been able to do a lot of pre-preparation for meeting up. We‘ve amassed various bits and pieces of material that will go into the different chapters. Some of these bits are things I’ve blogged about in order to try out the ideas.
You see, we never actually start a chapter with a totally blank page or screen. We always begin with some materials already partially written.
This morning we finished the rough, holey draft of chapter three – some 8,500 words (hooray). This afternoon we’ve been putting together the various accumulated chunks we already have for chapter four. We’ll begin writing fast tomorrow morning with three thousand or so words already in hand, a few paragraphs of introduction written and an agreed place to start.
This is really not the same as speed writing, it is writing fast, but only because we’ve done the necessary work ahead of time.