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Douglas Jones

image: Douglas Jones // click for WSJ article: Not So Fast

….Continued (finally) from Slow Writers, Unite! MY reality

First things first, I’ve learned a valuable lesson in blog writing. Do not start a two-part post unless both parts are completed! Did not mean for this to be such a delay between them. Won’t happen again. OK, moving on…

I brushed off the Candy Bouquet fiasco, tossed it aside. Denial?

No husband, no job, no money, no clue on what to do next. I’ve now realized there’s something going on with my hands, not understanding yet the significance of the MS memory glitch. I mean, look! I can twiddle my thumbs and raise my favorite finger at-will with the best of them.

As luck would have it, a neighbor-turned-good-friend of mine is a freelance editor, mostly for books, but American publishers have been funneling a lot of that work overseas. Have you read a newer book lately and seen the number of errors?

She started to supplement her work with Demand Media Studios and told me about their writing opportunities. Writing? Yes, I can do that! At home. No distractions. At my own pace. You see where this is going, right?

Writing always came easy to me. I enjoyed it (in that love-hate relationship way). I’ve garnered great compliments from professors and employers. For a short while, I wrote for a local newspaper; the editor adored me. I’ve got this.

The job with Demand was to write 400-word articles (on average) for $15 each. Five in a day would gross $75. Not much, but it was a start. I thought two-thousand words was reasonable, although I foolishly dreamed I might do more.

MY reality met THE reality, again. I could not write four a day, nor three, not even two. One article — 400 words — All. Day. Long. The words from my head to my fingers were riding the snooze cruise on that tired old turtle. The sentences were in my head, but when I placed my hands on the keyboard, most of it would disappear or become jumbled. Frustrating as hell! I stumbled along with Demand Media for about a year, made a few bucks, and quit. This time there was no denying, no ignoring, the new playbook.

MS throws a sucker-punch; and, if you’re not armed, it will suck the confidence from your soul.

The road ahead was steep; but now, four years later, I’m writing again, this time with blogs. East meets West, MY meets THE, realities travel together, fully aware of each other. I tell them to play nice. Many things have changed, namely me, and while there is a biological impediment to the speed of my writing, there are other speed bumps that can be avoided or improved to increase my time. Those are the things that I can control and will be working on and writing about in future posts.

For now, let me return to my original questions.

What is slow writing and compared to what? Articles on this subject address the speed of completing writing projects. In other words, from conception to finished product. There’s a host of tips and suggestions for this. Much of it boils down to discipline; schedule your writing and commit to a number a words. Good advice. Hard for me to do because I have never been a scheduler, or list-maker; but I’m working on it.

Comparing your speed of writing to others makes no sense. Here’s a tip: If you want to feel faster, compare yourself to me! Speed of completion depends on the goal. Is writing a hobby or your vocation?

My Dad wrote for a well-known sports magazine for twenty-five years. He was damn good at it. He could watch a fight in Vegas, hole himself up in his hotel room—smoking too much—and knock out a few thousand or more words in a sitting. One of his buddies worked for the AP and would actually dictate his entire story over the phone! So, yes, speed is warranted when there’s a deadline to meet and your salary depends on it. However, if my father and his colleagues turned in bad writing on time, well, they may have had to play craps to the tune of “baby needs a new pair of shoes.”

Which brings me to my last set of questions. Does speed = quality? Intelligence? Creativity? Not by a long shot. As slow as I am, I believe I am becoming a better writer today. I’ve looked over some of my past works and immediately want to edit! Not that it’s terrible, but I don’t see the maturity, experience or emotion. I now have forced time for deeper reflection. I recommend it, if you can.

So, I am combining both camps on slow writing: Embrace it and Improve it. Thoughts? Suggestions?