Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Write Fast (While Writing Well)

One of the challenges of writing is that we talk ourselves into believing that writing is "painful and frustrating and slow. Those are lies," author David Fryxell says. "You can write. Writing is joyful and liberating and fast."

Fryxell was one of those annoying kids who always turned his homework in on time. (His teacher made him an example for the class--and must have REALLY made him popular with the other students.) Later he became an editor and writer for several newspapers and magazines. As of the time this book was published, he'd authored at least a thousand magazine and newspaper articles, including Playboy and Travel & Leisure and other biggies, and had won over 80 regional and national awards for his editing and writing. So yeah, I guess he'd have to write fast, wouldn't he?

In a witty and self-deprecating tone, Fryxell teaches you how to evaluate your story and slant it for fast writing, how to make the best of library time, prepare for interviews, and more. How to Write Fast shows how understanding and streamlining the process behind these can get you writing at a pace that will help you push writer's block aside and enjoy meeting deadlines (whether your own or your editor's).

But his book isn't only about research and outlining. He spends some excellent chapters on archetectonics (the structure of your article or novel), and on creating leads that will entice your readers as well as make your writing job easier. His techniques aren't just for non-fiction writers, either. The same principles apply in novels and short stories.

The book is full of case studies of his own articles and information on how some of the most prolific writers have made their writing process efficient. He shows how he managed to write an entire profile on Malcolm Forbes with only a 30 minute interview; and turn an almost non-interview with Garrison Keillor into an article. Fryxell even shows how an article on Maggot Farming (ugh!) can become a structural marvel and an enjoyable read.

I'm the semi-controlled clutter type. I was pulled into the idea of outlining kicking and screaming. "Nooo! Please don't tell me that's your secret!" Less than two hundred pages later, I'm a believer! With my first novel, I agonized the plot for years, waiting for my characters to tell me what they wanted to do. Yesterday, while reading this book, I outlined the sequel in just one day.

You can do things the slow, hard way; maybe even suffer from writer's block (what he insists is merely bad preparation). Or you can use Fryxell's methods to make writing fast, fun and easy.

And more output means more checks in the mail, right?

Ouch! After I wrote this article, I found out that How to Write Fast (While Writing Well) seems to be out of print. There are a few copies left on Amazon, though, so get it while you can. Also Fryxell has another book out, Write Faster, Write Better, so you'll probably want to check that out as well!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! The title of this post intrigued me; I write with two toddlers in the house, so I'm always trying to figure out how to squeeze more words out of my writing time. I will definitely be looking into Fryxell's other book. Thanks for the tip!