"Why should I want to write quickly?" That gauntlet, thrown down by a colleague recently, caused me to sit back -- rather like an astronaut pressed into the chair by G-forces. But for me, the only force was astonishment.

I'd assumed everyone wanted to write faster -- in fact, I've worked with many people who were desperate to -- and I thought the reasons and benefits self-evident. But it’s a valid question and I'd like to address it today.

First, let me say that if you're happy with your writing speed -- that is, if you're one of those few lucky people who writes fluently without high drama or crises of conscience -- then pat yourself on the back and stop reading now. You probably don't need to change a thing.

But if you find writing in any way frustrating or too time consuming, then I urge you to push yourself to write faster, using a kitchen timer to prod yourself if necessary.

Here are five reasons why:

1) Your first instinct is often the best. Have you ever anguished over a decision? You know what it's like -- you run the pros and cons through your mind and the more you think, the harder it is to decide. But when you go with an instant or "gut" call, you often make a terrific decision -- perhaps without fully understanding why. Writing can be like that too. When you write slowly and carefully, you enlist the linear, rule-bound, hyper-critical part of your brain. You consider every nuance; you hesitate over grammar and haggle over word choice. But this sort of fretting simply gets in the way of putting your ideas on paper. Writing quickly, on the other hand, allows you to engage the creative, fast-working, instinctual part of your brain. Ideas and little flashes of brilliance occur to you -- and you capture them on paper immediately. By writing quickly you let your amazing creative brain do its job and you become the recording secretary.

2) You will waste less time. You know what happens when you get ready to go on vacation...You get your bills paid. You get caught up on your correspondence. You get nagging reports finished up. In short, you're highly productive -- not in spite of the time limit but because of it. Suddenly, you have focus. Apply this same kind of focus to your writing and you'll be amazed by what you can achieve. (University students inadvertently do this by neglecting their essays until the night before they're due!)

3) You can out-run the negative self-chatter. I've written about self-chatter before, so I'll make this point brief. Most of us are outrageously self-critical. "My writing is crummy, boring, no good," we like to tell ourselves. But if we write quickly, we can often out-run this negative voice.

4) You'll want to write more often. We all avoid tasks that make us uncomfortable -- instead, we like to do what seems fast and easy. If we write quickly, without making a major big deal about it, then writing loses its negative mystique. Instead, it becomes just another thing we do, like brushing our teeth or returning phone calls. And this is a self-perpetuating cycle. The more we write, the better we get at it, making it seem even easier.

5) You'll have more time to edit. This is by far the most important reason to write quickly. Let's say you have three hours to write something. If you can write the first draft in 30 minutes, well, that leaves 2.5 hours for the really important work, editing. But if it takes you 2.75 hours to write the draft, that leaves you only 15 minutes for editing. So if the phrase "fast writing" doesn't motivate you, think how your writing will benefit from more editing time. Or, as I always like to say, write as quickly as you possibly can and edit as slowly as you can bear.