Are you the type of person who writes a sentence and then spends 10 minutes thinking about it? "Is that the best word?" you wonder. "Does this flow from the previous sentence?" "Is that pronoun in the right place?"

Or perhaps you're a bit more sophisticated. Instead of quibbling with every sentence, you let yourself get halfway through whatever it is you're writing. Then boredom or exhaustion strikes, and you go back to the beginning to start revising.

We tend to call both of these approaches "writing," but, in fact, they are really "editing," which is something quite different. Editing requires slow, careful work. It's about thought, not inspiration.

Perhaps the best analogy I can suggest is to think about how your car works. The stop-and-start of city driving is harder on vehicles, more frustrating for drivers and uses more gas. Get onto the open highway, however, and you pick up speed and momentum.

It's the same idea with writing. The stop and start of editing will slow you down. Instead, you should take advantage of that blank screen in front of you. Think of it as a clear highway. Write your heart out.

When you need a break, don't edit. Instead, stand up and stretch. Reach your hands up toward the ceiling or jump up and down a bit. Or, go read a story in the newspaper, or, even better, a few pages written by someone who has a masterful command of the language. (I'm enjoying Lucy Maude Montgomery’s The Blue Castle these days.) But save the editing until you're finished.

This division of labor may seem odd at first -- you might even feel as though you aren't doing "real" writing. But you are. Creating and critiquing are different activities.

Keep them separate and you'll be a much faster writer.

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