Well, who could be more interesting to you than… you? Laying the words down as fast as you can – even if they’re the “wrong” words – focuses and frees your mind to expand and explore.
And speaking of “wrong” words, you’ll find that the words are only wrong for a short time. That would be during the brief period you’ll spend trying to find your voice, your path, as it were. Stephen King, in his wonderful book On Writing, refers to the moment when that happens as “jumping through the hole in the paper”. I’ve always thought of it as flying. There’s a time – and that time can be dragged out as long as you allow it – when you don’t really know what to say or how to say it. It feels heavy, uncomfortable, awkward… kind of like the beginning of an LSD trip (those days are gone for me but, alas, there’s little point in denying my hippie past) when nothing seems quite right. But then you break through, you take off, and you’re flying. Or jumping through the hole in the paper. Suddenly you know what you’re doing. Your mind is snapping, brimming with ideas that are coming so fast that your fingers can barely keep up. Some people call that inspiration; but all it is, really, is the result of writing fast.
So do whatever you have to do to get you through that awkward stage. I used to keep a sign on the wall that read Write Any Old Shit. Translated into decent language, that means “when in doubt, write something, because something is better than nothing.”
One is always tempted, especially at the beginning of a day’s work, to want to write well. Big mistake. Perfect is the enemy of good, and I’ll go into that in a lot more depth later. But back to writing something rather than nothing…
Say you’re planning to write a scene in which your protagonist – let’s call her Rosemary – meets the attractive but unscrupulous Drummond. Your first problem will be how does she feel when she sees him? At least that’s what it would be for me. Well, how she feels is a tricky thing. It may require subtle writing and deep thought – two activities that are usually beyond my capability the first thing in the morning. So instead you’d (that is, I’d) write, “When Rosemary saw Drummond enter the video store, she felt her heart drop to a place between her legs.” Worry about describing him later. Whatever makes Rosemary’s reaction to Drummond a sexual one (actually, I just thought that up right now) will come out in whatever text follows. The important thing is that you’ve gotten past the first (and hardest) hurdle, and you’re now free to go flying.
Another reason to write fast is because fast writing makes fast reading. The last thing fiction editors of any stripe are looking for is a lugubrious, slow-moving tome. Even if you subject is full of sturm und drang, keep your writing quick and your ideas accessible.
There’s that word again, accessible, which brings me to my Theory of Language. This is a somewhat esoteric theory known, at last count, to only one person, moi. It is this: Language is a code used for the transmission of ideas. Back in medieval times, the transmission of ideas was dependent on a person’s code-breaking mastery. Hence, only scholars and monks could read. But these days, just about everyone – everyone we know personally, anyway – has enough code-breaking mastery to read a book. So now the transmission of ideas depends less on the receiver of the transmission than it does on the sender. That’s because there’s such a wealth of stuff to choose from. So if you’re reading for pleasure, why would you choose to read something abstruse and clumsy when you’d most likely be able to find something on the subject that’s just as interesting and was also written in a snappy, accessible way?
Note, I didn’t say easy. It doesn’t have to be easy, or simple, or completed using a vocabulary of less than 200 words. I said accessible, meaning the reader can get to the heart of the matter, and to the core of what you, the author, are trying to communicate, easily. Accessibility means the shortest connection between your mind and your reader’s.
In other words, don’t try to be hifalutin’ in an attempt to bash the reader over the head with your mighty intellect. That kind of prose just sounds boring, and it defeats the purpose of the language code. After all, the greatest idea is worthless if it cannot be communicated.
And remember, above all else, the Great Rule: DO NOT BORE YOUR READER.