Slowpoke

How to be a faster writer.

Michael Agger

Person at a typewriter. Click image to expand.Can you make yourself write quickly?

Hunched over my keyboard, I’m haunted by anecdotes of faster writers. Christopher Hitchens composing a Slate column in 20 minutes—after a chemo session, after a "full" dinner party, late on a Sunday night. The infamously productive Trollope, who used customized paper! "He had a note pad that had been indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words," William F. Buckley told the Paris Review. "He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn’t reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster." Buckley himself was a legend of speed—writing a complete book review in crosstown cabs and the like…

… It’s no secret that writing is hard … but why can’t I be one of those special few for whom it comes easily? What am I doing wrong? Why haven’t I gotten any faster?

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