One of the worst things a writer can do is write a paragraph, then go back and fix that up, then write another paragraph, then go back and fix that one up. When I do this, I’m not moving forward, I’m not gaining critical speed.
I’m not learning fast enough.
If I write 100 words a day, always perfecting, always fidgeting, it will take me two years to write the first draft of a fairly average-length book.
And what if during that extended time period I realize I’m on the wrong track? What if my characters changed direction? What if my passion has died down? What if I need to rewrite it in a different point-of-view (which my wife so often suggests)?
In that case it has taken me 730 days to learn all of those things.
But what if I write 1000 words a day, never looking behind me to see what the wake has washed up? In a mere 73 days, barely two months, I have the completed work to look at, to pour over, to reevaluate.
I can do in two months what would have taken two years.
“The reason not to perfect a work as it progresses is that…original work fashions a form the true shape of which it discovers only as it proceeds, so the early strokes are useless, however fine their sheen. Only when a paragraph’s role in the context of the whole work is clear can the envisioning writer direct its complexity of detail to strengthen the work’s ends” (Annie Dillard, The Writing Life).
This isn’t just for writers.
Where are you moving at a snail’s pace? Go forward faster. Stop tidying up each day as it passes. View your life in bigger chunks than weeks or months.
Start living life at 1000 words a day.