Breaking the Text Barrier

Breaking Writers Block: Part 2

Writing quickly and writing slowly tap into totally different parts of your brain. If you are usually an ordered and methodical writer, you may find it incredibly useful and productive to cut loose. 

Different Approaches to Writing Really Fast 

Fast mode, for me, is when the ideas are coming faster than my mental ability to express them properly and I desperately scramble to get words on paper or pixels on screen before losing them completely. Coherence, continuity and common sense are the first things to go out with the window as I struggle to come up with strategies to keep getting some value from the technique. There is value there, even though it may not be apparent at first. With practice, you can learn to control the flow.

My top speed is probably about 700 words an hour. I can imagine someone writing semi-coherently at two or three thousand words and hour. I know people who can type 100 words a minute, but anyone who can think that fast is a freak of nature.  Beyond that, we should introduce you to Professor X and watch for the movie about you. 

Wrting this fast isn't stream of consciousness because, if you're doing it right, you leave real consciousness behind. Jet-stream of consciousness, maybe - coming apart like a cloud in the wind. Never pausing long enough for ideas to actually gel, but hopefully enough to stretch the mental muscles you need to write well; and sometimes, plant seeds that you can nurture into something worthwhile.

Automatic Writing

They say automatic writing is a conduit to the soul. Don't think, just write; consciousness be damned! Let your subconscious take over. 

‘Waking-from-a-dream’ style automatic writing sometimes comes with fully formed sentences, occasionally it's even polished and poetic, although it will more likely manifest as an undecipherable mess; words vomited onto the page. Lots and lots of meaningless text like a newspaper in a foreign language; lots and lots of repetition, because it's hard coming up with new words when you're trying not to, you know, think. Is my soul really that damned repetitive? Is my id a skipping record, a single gestetner page growing blurrier and more faded as I try to reach the bottom of the page? Is it all a secret metaphor for life? 

You should experiment. Try slowing down a tad, just enough to give yourself time to think. On the other hand, you may find thinking counterproductive. As soon as your critical mind is engaged, you start trying to edit yourself. Back up, fix this, clarify what you meant by that, and before you know it you're back down to your usual writing speed with the usual roadblocks. The trick is to keep your critical mind in the off position. Keep the words flowing using any means that comes natural to you; wordplay, word association, random rhyme and alliteration, list-making, transcribing daydreams. Avoid thinking, just write the first things that come into your head. Annnnnnd...okay. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. 

Go Into It with a Rough Game Plan 

Personally, I need to start with something. Come up with a plan, a dynamic outline, so I can write with a particular goal in mind, but remain fluid enough to turn on a dime. 

Very fast writing is almost always more fun than laboured, purposeful, self-conscious writing. But whether or not you end up with anything usable is an open question. Going totally free-form frequently plays out as mere running off at the mouth with nothing in particular to say, pages of words, as disposable as last week’s grocery list.

But it can also be a great way to limber up your mind, free it from worldly distractions and get the flow going, especially when you're battling with mental constipation. It's usually a mistake to think that something you wrote in fast mode is perfect as it stands, but sometimes it does produce material worth keeping; a few nuggets and diamonds in the rough. Sometimes the little bits o’ brilliance that come out of the approach can be the inspiration for poems, stories or even a novel! Most often, it just keeps you in the habit of writing at times when you just don't feel like it. And that is the real exercise here - learning to think differently...because you know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Break the mold

Get the scoop on my new novel, The Human Template at


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