More time writing buys more time reading

A few years ago, I worked with a chap who was an absolute wiz at speed reading.  I reckon he took about three, maybe four, seconds to read a page of a typical hardback book. 

For David, reading a 200-page book was a 10 or 15-minute project – perhaps 20 minutes if he was also drinking a cup of coffee.  In a month, David probably read twice as many books as I read in an entire year.  Maybe more. 

David was also a pretty fast writer.  But was he a good writer? 

Of course the answer to that question depends very much on your definition of a good writer. 

In my opinion, a good writer is one who, first and foremost, engages the reader.  A good writer is a writer who writes something that the reader wants to read.  If people aren’t going read what you write, there’s little point in writing it.  And, in my opinion, David’s writing was generally not writing that you wanted to read.  

There was no question that David covered all the bases, included all the facts.  But what he wrote was just not ‘a good read’.  It was the sort of writing that you start to read … but then quietly abandon in favour of something more rewarding.  

In a recent essay, Joseph Epstein observed that ‘No good writer is a fast reader’.  And I think he has a point.  Good writers read – and write – one word at a time, one phrase at a time.  

Whether they are writing a brief briefing note or a major report, good writers do their best to ensure that their readers want to read every single word.  And that usually means allocating a bit more time to your writing.  

Do that, and there is a very good chance that your reader will allocate a bit more time to their reading. – Jack Scrivano


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