It Doesn’t Get Easier, You Just Go Faster

One of my best friends is really into cycling. She racks up dozens of miles each day and has competed in plenty of races, both on and off road. She knows how to push her body better than anyone I’ve ever met – I honestly don’t know how she does it. So what does this have to do with writing?

My friend likes to quote Greg LeMond regarding hard practices: “It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.”

I think that’s a truth all writers can live by, too.

A lot of people claim you need to write a million words before you really reach your stride as a writer. Others put great stock in word-count widgets or in NaNoWriMo progress. These are all wonderful ways to track our growth, but the trouble is that sometimes we fall flat on our faces despite all that growth. We barely savor the victory of completing our first novel before someone tells us we really ought to write at least three novels before our work reaches publishable status.

If we’re lucky enough to get published, we jump right into the fear of meeting expectations on our second book…or our third…or our fifteenth. It’s enough to discourage even the most stout-hearted little writer at times.

That’s when I like to keep my friend’s advice in mind. Sometimes we authors think that if we could just finish, just get published, just sell more copies, everything would fall into place. Well, I’ve got news for you. I’m pretty sure even bestsellers wake up with the same fears and doubts that we do some days. I bet there are times they don’t feel much like writing or think their latest pages are crap.

We’re never going to stop encountering challenges, uncertainties or heartbreak in writing. We’ll get stuck, we’ll want to throw our precious manuscripts into the nearest bonfire, we’ll get sucker-punched by rejections – that’s unavoidable and, for the most part, out of our control. What we can control is our perseverance, our ability to get back up and our discipline to the craft we love.

It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster. In the cycling world, “fast” is the fun part, the exhilarating rush when your mind and mettle come together to push you to a new level you never thought you’d achieve. And when you do that, suddenly all the sacrifice and hurt seems worth it.

I think it’s the same in writing. With each new draft, each new story or each new connection with fellow readers and writers, we help ourselves “go faster.” With every word we write, we become a better author than we’ve ever been before.

That’s what this is all about after all.

What about you? How do you push yourself to “go faster” in your writing?


  1. I like the idea of gaining speed.

    Slowly increasing expected output (or shortening project timelines) might be one way to work toward this. This probably requires someone else to keep us honest.

    How do you go about doing it?

  2. Hektor,

    I think a lot of it comes down to the "butt in chair" approach. :)

    If you love something enough to remain dedicated to it day in and day out, that commitment (and improvements) will definitely show.

    I have a great crit group that helps me stay on track. We review 15-20 pages of each others' work each week. We're generally very excited to read everyone's next section, so that's a powerful motivator to keep us all moving forward and cranking out pages.

    I also think it's important to measure our progress as writers beyond just words on paper. I think there's a "learn the art of the craft" factor where we can grow, too. For me, it comes from reading widely and examining how published writers I admire tackle the same challenges I'm facing in my stuff.