The Writer’s Slow Sprint

Last week I wrote about how sleeping better can help to eke out a little more writing time per day. This week, I’ve been thinking about slowing down. I struggle with being realistic sometimes. I want to write a novel now, be the writer I want to be right now—or, even better, yesterday. I set ridiculous deadlines.

I’ll give you an example. I have a full-time job, a house, friends I want to keep up with, and yet on February 1st I was still trying to write a 40,000 word manuscript by February 28th. All this does is put me in a heightened state of stress and, most often, leave me with nothing done.

So I’m changing tack. I’m going to write 500 words a day, every day. Which means in a year I will have written nearly 200,000 words.

I’m calling it a slow sprint—a sprint because of the short bursts, slow because of the cumulative effect.

I’m coming to realize that maybe writing can’t be rushed. Maybe it’s about more than throwing words out at speed and editing later. So I’m easing off the pressure, taking time to refine and building up to a really good first draft.

If, like me, you’re impatient and overly keen to get somewhere fast, I recommend this method. Slow down, take time to enjoy what you’re doing, and the work that you’re doing will surely improve too. Writing can be a long game. Sometimes your hands can’t keep up with your head. Slow down, and maybe the two can come to meet in the middle.


Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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