Slow Down, You Move Too Fast…

I’ve had managers and coworkers note how quickly I think, work, and crank out prose, even on short notice. Ninety percent of the time, the content is even of high quality and able to be used right out of the gate. However, speed is not always necessary or a virtue. And a speedy writer still leaves a one-in-ten chance that he or she will miss something important. Depending on the work, that’s too much of a margin for error.

I’ve functioned best in environments where I have an editor covering my back. Being a freelancer has been a challenge to me because it has forced me to slow down–not just my thinking, but my writing and editing process as well. And the thing is, given the speed with which I work, I have the time to go back and do another edit. Maybe several.

Engineers are fond of saying: “Faster, better, cheaper: pick two.”

If you’re someone who can crank out high-quality prose in a short time, there are a couple of things you can do to improve your position:

  • If you’ve got the time, go back and do another edit. Maybe several.
  • If you finish early, walk away from the writing and come back to it before hitting “send.”
  • If you’ve got an editor available, ask them to read your work for content, mechanics, or both.
  • If you’re a freelancer, consider angling your value proposition toward being “faster and better.” If you can do both, there are customers who will be willing to forego the “cheaper.”

Remember: it’s not always a race. The goal isn’t have your writing be first but it should be the best you can produce in the time allotted.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
Quote | This entry was posted in editing, personal, technical writing, workplace. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Slow Down, You Move Too Fast…

  1. Regarding your checklist, I say yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    P.S. Yes.

  2. Bart Leahy says:

    Thanks! I realize I’m admitting a weakness here, but everyone’s got them, right?

  3. Lisa Kaspin-Powell says:

    I got the title reference (great song! I used to sing that in elementary school chorus).
    It is so important to be able to put the assignment away for a while and look at it with fresh eyes later. I admit it is hard to do when I keep thinking “I want to finish this already!” and can’t stop thinking about it.

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