Are you a fast writer? Can you slam out a page in no time at all? Do you book tons of work and get it all done in a day so that you can lark away the rest of the week? Or maybe you book yourself solid and procrastinate until the day before it’s all due. Then you ride the high of deadline pressure and knock it out victoriously.
Or, maybe you’re slow. Maybe you have to do a little every day and chip away at it. Maybe you struggle a bit on long projects or need to take breaks often to keep the creativity flowing. You have to keep at it, edit a few times and schedule really well to make sure it comes together when it’s all due.
Slow writer or fast writer? Which is best?
Most people would say fast. The lightening writer knows their stuff like the back of their hand and gets it all done, with plenty of time to spare. That’s envious, isn’t it?
I’m not so sure.
When you’re a craftsperson, you need to care about what you do – and the best I’ve ever seen, from leather carvers to cabinetmakers, take their time. They work at it slowly and carefully. They test each rivet. They plane edges with love. They make sure that the item they’re creating is solid, well-made and top quality.
Now, you might still think that a good craftsperson could whip through that leather carving overnight – and you’d be right. That person could. Most craftspeople have decades of experience and know the intricacies of their work down to the tiniest detail. They certainly could create a near-masterpiece overnight if they wanted to.
Almost all of them don’t.
Why? Are they generally laid back people? Are they relaxed in their thinking and just taking their time? Are they choosing a lifestyle where rushing and busy isn’t part of it? Do they not need the money?
They need the money. They rush in their own way – believe me. They aren’t taking their time. They’re probably not relaxed. They have stresses and deadlines to meet just like anyone out there.
But they want to do the best job they can. And whipping up something at the last minute never, never does the best job.
A last-minute job can be great, sure. It can be stupendous! That article? Thousands of readers! The web copy? Converts like mad! But… imagine if that fantastic work was crafted even further.
Imagine if the work was looked over the day after, and a small detail corrected here, one more changed there… that sentence is too long. Ah, it’s much more powerful said like that! And here, this verb… Let’s change it to that one. Perfect. And here, a header? Definitely.
And so on, and so on.
There’s something to be said for taking your time and doing the best job you can. No work done at the last minute is as good as it can ever be, especially in writing. In fact, you can spend weeks, months and years working at creating the best message.
So back to the question of which is better, slow or fast? I’ll pick my answer: conscientious.
Want to know how you can be that contentious worker without losing time and money? James Chartrand has the answers in his book, The Unlimited Freelancer. Grab your copy and learn how to take the time to work more on what matters while still bringing the money.
expert writer says
I work fast because I get payed $1 per artical. Im basiclly a data entry operator. How dare u elitist professionalz judge me becuz I have mouthes to feed.
James Chartrand says
@ Expert – I haven’t judged anyone with this post, though I am sorry you feel strongly about your personal situation and reacted to that. The point of the article was that, typically, fast workers don’t present the best quality possible.
Kind of like that comment… 🙂
Oh boy. I’ve been up all night working, and I really needed a laugh. Expert, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that comment was intended to be a joke.
I agree, James. I tend to be quite slow. I did pump out keyword articles for $15 a pop at first, but I’m glad I now make rates that give me the luxury of thinking things through, taking my time, and submitting something I’m proud of.
There are needs for both abilities. While taking time to write more complex articles is important — and brings more in total revenue, there are clients who have a need for speed in deadline situations. I spent 13 years as a daily newspaper reporter, and was on staff when the Challenger blew up and we literally stopped the presses. I was working on a small item on teacher in space program, got in touch with a local in the program and wrote a small reaction piece. I also covered a steel strike settlement on deadline, and, in what is almost a former life, covered numerous sports items on deadline — long enough ago that I had to dictate some articles on the fly (yes, there was a time before the Internet and laptops).
I still work on fast deadlines at times, when another writer has dropped the ball or an editor got caught up before making assignments or due to some other glitch. Being able to work quickly when necessary is an asset that can bring in some business.
But continously quick deadlines will kill you. And newspapers and others that rely on quick deadlines don’t pay that well. I have some $1 a word clients. Those are articles/features/other content that can’t be cranked out on the fly.
oops, typo on continuously on previous post. Need to take a little more time before hitting send on this forum.
I’m glad you wrote this article, because I am someone who is a bit slow. I may type or write fast! But after the draft has been set, I walk through what i wrote like a snail! But it helps me a little. I helps me get inside my own piece all over again, if that makes sense. Overall, thank you so much for this article!
I forgot, the “t” in “It” for It helps me get inside”. See writing fast doesn’t suit me!”
christne cox says
“I’ll pick my answer: contentious.”
Contentious? That means perverse, wearisome tendency to quarrles and disputes.
Why would I want to be a ‘contentious’ writer????
Did you mean ‘conscientious’?
James Chartrand - Men with Pens says
@ Christine – I don’t need to know the meaning, but perhaps Word does. It made an automatic switch when I wasn’t looking. Damn it! *shakes fist*
Thanks for the catch!
christne cox says
James – of course it was word! Thank heavens, I was wondering! Glad we cleared that up. Word is BOSSY and needs to stay out of people’s way sometimes!
Ry Wilson says
I am the fast-slow writer. I can write fast, but I do it at the last minute. And then I go over it until it’s a totally different work.My first job I was assigned over 20 articles, well, I fell ill, my mother fell ill and sadly, I didn’t make the deadline and felt foolish. We all can’t be perfect though.