Greeting from Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ll be living here for the next two months, and I have several projects I’d like to wrap up before I return to America. To finish these projects on time, however, I’m going to have to work at a happily manic pace. While I’d like to take my time and focus on all the little details, I don’t have the luxury of moving slow, not if I want to meet my self-imposed deadlines.
In the last post I gave eight reasons to slow down. Today, though, I’d like to take a contrarian perspective and consider some reasons to speed things up. What kind of things am I talking about? Creative projects and the creative process; taking an idea from back-of-the-napkin scribbles to final, messy birthing unto the world. Writing, building, dreaming so fast everything blurs like the neon carnival ride above.
Let’s see if I can get through this list without contradicting every single thing I said last time.
1. Life is short….so why go slow? Why not try to do as much as possible in a small amount of time? Blazing through things, it’s harder to get bored. When I have projects that linger for months and months, I tend to lose interest. I feel there’s something about immediacy and urgency that can give new life to a project.
2. Moving fast increase stress…but sometimes stress can be useful. Long-term stress will give you a heart attack, but in limited quantities, stress can release adrenaline and endorphins which allow you to focus, work faster and longer, and increase productivity. A little stress can also benefit your immune system.
3. Shaving time is cumulative. Saving six minutes once isn’t a big deal, but if you can do this ten times an hour, it’s like having an extra hour. Competitive racers do this by taking curves on the inside, only inches from collision and death, all in the name of shaving time.
4. Mistakes can be fixed later. Sometimes the most important thing is finishing. We all need timely wins. Who cares if things aren’t perfect at first? You can go slow during revisions.
5. You can make more money. If you’re paid by the piece or project, then obviously the faster you work the more you make. Double your speed, double your income (unless speed causes shoddy work, in which case you’ll work harder but end up making about the same).
6. Outrunning your competition has benefits. Sometimes it’s better to be first than best. In business, this is called the First-Mover Advantage.
7. You can increase focus and attention. When you’re working fast, you can’t see the distractions around you. Like when you’re speeding down a back road, you must focus only on the task at hand; otherwise you’ll end up in a flaming pile of wreckage.
8. Let’s face it: Fast is fun. Why else would people ride roller coasters, drive sports cars, or go skiing. It’s all about adrenaline and energy. Sure, sometimes you crash, but at least you got a thrill. The hardest part is maintaining control and avoiding a burnout.
That’s it. I wish I could say I wrote this in a frenzied thirty minutes, but I’ll admit it took me a little longer. Maybe learning to move fast will take longer than I thought.
Over to You:
- In your opinion, what are the benefits of moving fast?
- What’s better: finishing quick with mistakes to be fixed or taking your time and fixing mistakes as you go?
As always, thanks for reading. Since I’m doing a lot of fiction writing lately, I’ve decided to make April ‘Better Writing Month.’ As much for my sake as yours, I’ll be writing posts about fiction and nonfiction, grammar, word usage (?), and other things that make English majors sigh with delight.
Photo credit: tambako