If my writing process had a spirit animal it would be the Tortoise from the fable “The Tortoise And The Hare”.
For those unfamiliar, “The Tortoise And The Hare” is a childhood tale in which a Tortoise challenges a fast, boastful Hare to a race. The Hare accepts, expecting to rout his slow moving opponent.
On the day of the race, the Hare jumps to a commanding lead. So commanding, that he decides to take a nap before completing the race.
While the Hare snoozes, the tenacious Tortoise inches his way forward. He crosses the finish line just as the Hare wakes up… teaching the showboating and shit-talking critter an important lesson in humility.
As a writer I’ve always loved the fabled tortoise. Like the lumbering hero, my writing process is slow and steadfast; often painfully so. I anguish over every word, labor over half formed sentences, and pick apart each paragraph like a wounded body on the operating table.
Is this enjoyable?
No! In fact, at times it is insanity inducing. But I view it as a cost of business. The process may be painstakingly slow, but something as sacred as the written word deserves this level of care. As the Tortoise And The Hare teaches us: slow and steady wins the race.
But what if the Tortoise isn’t the hero we make him out to be? What if the Hare is really the enviable character of the story?
We praise the Tortoise’s plodding persistence, but we ignore the Hare’s rapid efficiency. Let us not forget that the Hare dozed off, and was still inches away from winning the race. If he had invested in a better alarm, he could have enjoyed both a swift victory and much needed nap.
This hot take has put my writing process into question. Were all the hours I’ve toiled away in front of word processors a necessary evil? Or evidence of my ineptitude? Perhaps this writer could learn something from the newly humbled Hare. That’s why I created:
The December(ish) Anxious Writer’s Power Hour
Think of this challenge as an A/B test between two different writing methods. I want to pit my cautious, methodical writing process against one that is fast, free flowing, and (hopefully) more efficient. It’s a title fight between my inner perfectionist and his nimble, easy going cousin.
So how does it work?
From December 7th to January 3rd I will write 6 articles a week. Each article must be at least 250 words.
During the week (Monday thru Friday) I will write what I call “Hare Articles”.
A “Hare Article” has a strict time limit. Each weekday I will set a timer for an hour and start writing. Once the clock hits 60 minutes, I stop. It doesn’t matter if my work is incomplete, incoherent, or an inspired mess: once the hour is up, I stop writing and post what I’ve done.
Over the weekend I pass the baton to the more exacting part of my brain, and write a “Tortoise Article”.
A “Tortoise Article” is a post without a strict time limit. I can take as much time as I need over the weekend to complete it... as long as I submit it by 11:59pm on Sunday night.
At the end of the challenge I will submit the best “Tortoise” and “Hare” articles to a panel of my most sophisticated friends, and they will determine the winner.
Who will win? Anyone’s guess!
Will Tony learn a lesson? I hope so!
Will he lose his mind in the process? Undoubtedly!
Without further ado…
I invite you to place your bets, take your seats, and enjoy The December(ish) Anxious Writer’s Power Hour!