The speed of story is how long it takes for an idea to become a first draft.
Let’s say you type 30 words per minute. It stands to reason that you should be able to produce 5,000 words in about three hours. If you type around 60 words per minute, even better. You should be able to write 5,000 words in an hour and a half.
“Scoff!” you scoff. “Nobody thinks that fast!”
According to researchers at John Hopkins University, the speed of thought has been measured to be 300 milliseconds. Add to that full comprehension, another 250 to 450 milliseconds, and we’re looking at up to 750 milliseconds.
Even if you typed 225 words per minute, there’s no way you’re gonna even touch that thought. It’s already around the corner and racing down the causeway shouting plot twists over its shoulders, counting on you to keep up.
So then why does it take so dang long to write a story?
Well, first of all, I think it’s helpful to take a look at what the creative process looks like.
(By the way, if you’re looking to get me a present, a personal artist monkey would be swell, thanks.)
1. The first area, “Yon High,” you don’t need to worry about. This area is out of your control, and it works fine without you trying to figure it out.
2. The lightning bolt. This is tricky; however, in this discussion of speed of story, you don’t need to worry about it either. As long as you’re having ideas at all, then you’re fine. Yours works.
3. Ah…the brain. This is the complicated chunk of dense fruitcake that an idea needs to travel through to get to a keyboard.
4. Output. This, of course, can be accomplished via pen, marker, crayon, eyeliner, hammer and chisel…as well as by keyboard. Oh. And I suppose you could use a typewriter too. That would be so retro.
So you know where this is going, right? If we don’t have to worry about Nos. 1 and 2, and No. 4 is what it is for the moment, what the heck is gumming up the works?
That’s right. You are. Your brain is to blame.
It’s true. The journey of an idea through the dense spongy interior of the human skull is akin to a protagonist struggling towards her goal…obstacles thrown up left and right, rocks thrown, and tears a’cried. Let me show you.
You’ll notice that most of the junk the brain throws up to diffuse the idea/lightning bolt keeps us stuck at Square One. This is paralyzing stuff. This stuff isn’t just slowing us down…it’s not even letting the engine turn over.
Just imagine if we could get rid of all this junk. What would that be like?
You like the sound of that, don’t you?