How Fast do You Write?


I touched on writing with speed previously, but I wanted to go a bit more in-depth with it.

Yes, writing quickly is important. But, more important than that is if you know how fast you can write. I’m not saying time yourself, but depending on each story… Can you say how long it takes you to write each story? It’s something to think about.

It’s important because, if it’s a busy morning, you’ll need to know what you are capable of finishing. There is nothing worse than not being able to finish something, when all along you said you could do it.

Editors will trust you and they are counting on you to not have random spaces to fill (or use more wire stories). That is not a secret.

At the Chronicle we pitch our stories and we even let the editor know how long we think the story will be. In that pitch, we also do a brief synopsis of the story. If the editor decides it’s on the front page then you get more room to work with 15″+, but if it’s an inside story it’s usually between 10″ and 14″.

It’s crucial, during this brief conversation, for the editor and reporter to agree on how “big” of a story it really is. Some stories get pushed to the next day, but they are still  expected to be done on deadline.

I keep stressing speed because that’s what journalism is today. It’s fast and it’s only going to get faster. The Internet, Twitter and Facebook have everyone worrying about how fast they can get things up online. It’s insane.

Deadlines aren’t what they used to be. I’ve gotten a couple brief cracks at breaking news, but that’s about it. I have gotten my writing speeds up to where I’m confident in myself that I can say how long a story will take me to write.

This will sound corny, but I really think it comes down to believing in yourself. You can’t be worrying 24/7 about deadline or panic. There’s no time for any of that. You have a job to do and the clock is constantly ticking if you are worrying, or not.

It also helps when your editor and you have a rhythm. There’s an insane amount of trust there. The reporter trusting in the editor to keep the copy in tact, while the editor is trusting the reporter to be on time and have fairly decent copy.

It’s crazy, but crazy is a good thing.



2 Responses to How Fast do You Write?

  1. Pingback: The Extra Mile « Just Starting Out

  2. Pingback: Deadlines: The Pressure | Just Starting Out

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