- How Long does it Take to Read this Post? (And other Thoughts about Writing)
How Long does it Take to Read this Post? (And other Thoughts about Writing)
By Didi Gorman
This post will take you approximately three minutes to read.
Can you guess how long it has taken me to write it?
The Myth of Fast Writing
A prevalent misconception is that if a piece can be read in a matter of minutes, it must have, therefore, been written in one short sitting.
The truth is, creative writing (blogs, columns, fiction) involves a long process of brainstorming, writing, editing, and rewriting. When I start writing an article, even though I have an initial idea of what I want to say, it will take several days still, in most cases, for the text to assume its final shape, undergoing many alterations in-between. This is not because I’m particularly slow or inefficient (I’d rather think of it as ‘thorough’ and ‘attentive to detail’), but simply because this is the nature of creative writing, where new ideas and insights evolve as we write them, warranting frequent modifications to the original text.
There ARE, on occasion, those pieces which just flow out of my brains onto the keyboard in almost one single stroke, but those are rare (and still require some fine-tuning).
Like any other skill or trade, practice – a lot of it –improves one’s proficiency over time; but even for the most seasoned of writers, the process of brainstorming, editing, and rewriting is an integral part of the work.
Given the public nature of this profession, rejection is all too common in the life of an aspiring writer. The explanation is simple: You write with the specific aim of publishing your text, one way or another. It’s rare to write a piece intended never to be shown to anyone.
This means you will soon find yourself at the mercy of publishers, editors, blog owners, and of course, readers. Get comfortable being rejected; it’s intrinsic to this occupation. And you’re not exempt from rejection if you own your own blog, either. (Been there, done that.) You still need to attract readers and make them want to come back for more. Not an easy task by any stretch. Yours is not the only cool blog out there.
When I started writing, I didn’t know all that. I had naively thought that once I’ve produced one nice article and managed to have it published, I’ve conquered the writing world and, consequently, that any piece I’d be writing from that point on would be enthusiastically welcomed by cheering crowds.
Laughable, I know.
Needless to say, in reality, there’ve been no abracadabras and no shortcuts in my path, only hard work.
After writing dozens of posts, articles, and essays in the past few years, I’m beginning to grasp what creative writing is about.
Love affair with
I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of communicating meaning through the power of words, even long before I had started writing professionally.
Words evoke an emotional response; they really do have power. You become very aware of this principle when words are your ‘clay’ or your ‘acrylics’, so to speak – the building blocks with which you create ‘something out of nothing’ (to use a metaphor from the artistic realm) in the form of a meaningful text.
Think of the words ‘insidiously’ or ‘vulnerability’, for example. I’m pretty sure we can’t remain indifferent when we read them. A writer is very attuned to word choices and their emotional impact.
Writing as an Outlet
I have long discovered the soothing effect of writing. By this, I’m not referring necessarily to writing about the things that bug me, but to the act of writing itself. It’s an outlet. A ‘vent’, if you will.
People have different methods of quieting their minds. Some ‘walk it off’, others ‘bake it away’, others still ‘garden it out’.
I write it down.
This has become very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which, like so many others, I found myself overwhelmed by uncertainty, fearing the unknown. My technique for achieving a relative peace of mind involved striking at the keyboard until I felt better. It worked.
In hindsight, it doesn’t surprise me that some of the most poignant pieces I’ve produced to date have been written during that global crisis.
The Grand ‘Reveal’
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: How long did it take me to write this post?
From inception to finished piece: three and a half days.
How long did it take you to read it?