Is speed slowing down original thought?

I was recently thinking about some of the great 20th century authors and the volumes they created using a typewriter to bang out their prose (or maybe a pen…). Starting with a finite blank page, typing, x-ing things out, reading it over, scribbling edits by hand, retyping and repeating till they felt their stories were complete. It was a long, solitary and arduous journey. And it produced works of genius.

And I wonder if the passion for immediacy in our web 2.0 world is running counter to that process.  I’m not saying we should hang onto the past. I am saying it sometimes feels like we’re trading speed for reflection.

Yes, we can spew out words and ideas on a keyboard (much like this), quickly read it over, spell check (hopefully), link and publish.  But how much time are we spending rewriting? Looking at our ideas from a different angle, a fresh perspective, the benefit of time; and then revising or maybe starting anew.

These days, I’m getting a lot of  mini aha moments; that is idea-bursts from blogs, tweets, articles and observations online.  And while these are energizing kernels of thought, sometimes they’re not enough. And I crave the brilliance I still get from certain authors or a great, sprawling conversation.

Perhaps we need the equivalent of writerly speed limits, i.e. slow down our prose, choose words more selectively, be a bit less prolific and take that extra time to consider before we hit publish or press send.

Sure we can all be writers. Maybe we need to become reflectors too.

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2 thoughts on “Is speed slowing down original thought?

  1. I would definitely say that the pace of life has an impact on my ability to come up with truly original thoughts. I find these tend to happen when I’m at home laying in bed, or when I’m just relaxing after a long day at the office. My advice, always, ALWAYS have a note pad (or some electronic version of a notepad) for those breakthrough ideas.

    Then the challenge becomes ensuring you find the time to incorporate those ideas into your writing! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Corey. I think the idea of a notepad is a good one-I usually try to keep my jacket pockets filled with one small writing pad, but then I have to search o find which one has the idea I’m looking for. Great meeting you today.

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