Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SPEEDBO – Quality vs. Quantity

By Debby Giusti

Tortoise or hare?

I’m the tortoise. At least, I always thought I was.

Of course, I’m referring to Aesop’s Fables and the story about the race between the overly confident rabbit and the slow-moving turtle. The rabbit gets off to a fast start and seems assured of winning, so much so that he stops to take a nap. We all know the ending. The determined turtle keeps moving forward and wins the race!

Early in my writing journey, I worked at a slower-than-molasses pace. Each page had to be pulled from me. Often it was a painful, bloody process.

In those days, I marveled at the fluid prose that seemed to effortlessly flow from the pens—or computers--of more experienced writers. While I struggled to have my characters lift a teacup or exit a room gracefully, many of my friends were filling pages with pithy dialogue and action tags that transported their characters seamlessly from scene to scene.

I was a college grad who had excelled in honors English and considered my vocabulary to rank at least slightly above average, yet when faced with a blank page, I inevitably reverted to a few tried and true expressions that appeared far too frequently in my writing. He smiled, she smiled. He nodded. She nodded. He shrugged, she shrugged, they both shrugged. Body parts flew. Heads hopped. Infinitives were split and modifiers dangled.

My stories were heavily seasoned with filter words, such as felt, heard, wondered and thought. I told everything, in huge information dumps, because show don’t tell was an elusive concept I couldn’t grasp, along with GMC and POV. When a friend suggested NaNoWriMo, I shook my head, wrapped my arms defiantly across my chest and emphatically screamed, “No!”
It's almost Spring!

At that time, I was focused on quality…or the lack thereof in my writing. I didn’t see the need to increase my productivity when I had so much to learn.

Fast forward to after I got “The Call” and was working on a multi-book contract. Productively became important. Working on a deadline meant I didn’t have the luxury of overanalyzing each phrase. I no longer could spend hours and hours on a sentence when the clock was ticking and the editor was eager to receive the completed—and polished—manuscript.
From Art & Fear

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed an intervention. Enter AlphaSmart, the portable word-processor that allows me to write without editing. Each of the eight files holds approximately 25 pages of text when downloaded to my computer. By breaking my manuscripts into 25-page sections, I can gauge my progress and move more quickly to completion.

My old, but faithful AlphaSmart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a tortoise. I inch my way through the first three chapters as I’m getting to know my characters, but by chapter four, I’m reaching for my AlphaSmart and increasing my speed as my hero and heroine bicker and banter and struggle through that awkward, becoming acquainted stage. By midpoint, they’re much more compatible, are working together and falling in love. Danger threatens, and the enemy is preparing to attack. The closer I get to the black moment and climax, the faster my fingers fly over the keyboard. The ending is easy and almost seems to write itself. (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.) Once I have a finished manuscript, my pace slows again as I carefully edit and rework that rough, first draft.
The Bradford pear in my church parking lot
is in full bloom.
Which brings me to the question of quality vs. quantity.  David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book, Art & Fear, provide the following scenario. A ceramics teacher divided his class into two sections. One section was to be graded on the quantity of work they created. The second group was told to create only one piece of art, their best work possible, which would determine their grade. On the final day of class, the work from those who had focused on quantity was far superior to those who had worked on only one piece of art. Trying to bring that one piece to perfection had slowed their progress. Those who had created numerous ceramic pieces had improved with each attempt to create something new.

Joe Bunting, in his blog post, “Writing Fast and Slow: CreativeWriting Lessons from Daniel Kahneman,”  discusses the quality vs. quantity topic as addressed in Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman writes about two systems in the brain: System 1 is the creative, fast-paced subconscious; System 2 is the focused, problem solving, conscious side. Both are needed, but at different times. Bunting claims the creative System 1 should be used when we write our drafts, which means writing fast to allow our creative subconscious free rein. System 2 should be used when we edit our work.  

Magnolias are starting to bloom.
So where does that leave us? Probably with two sides of the same coin. At times, we work slowly. For me, that’s at the beginning of a book as well as when I edit. At other times, we need to push ourselves to create more, faster.

Even if our progress is slow, Speedbo encourages us to write. It also provides accountability and a community of support. Increasing our productivity is an added plus.

"The Tortoise and the Hare", 
from an edition of Aesop's Fables 
illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1912. PD-US.
Keep in mind, both the hare and the tortoise ran the race. No matter your speed, keep writing! Thirteen days are left in March. Thirteen more days to SpeedBo!

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of my March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED. I'll also include a special, secret gift!

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti


Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer.  But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.

Debby will sign copies of STRANDED, on Thursday, March 26, from 4-6:30 PM, at Omega Book Center, 100 North Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree City, GA. This seventh book in her Military Investigations series is dedicated to Frank Forth, a Peachtree City resident and member of the Greatest Generation who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Proceeds from the signing will benefit Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Inc., and Bugles Across America, a non-profit organization that recognizes the service of our veterans by providing buglers who play a live rendition of Taps at their funerals. Hope you can join me if you’re in the area.  Orders can also be phoned in at 770-487-3977, and autographed copies can be held for pickup or mailed.


Helen Gray said...

Debby, how well I recognize the process you describe. I still haven't gotten to the point I can crank it out real fast.

Coffee's brewing.

Marianne Barkman said...

SPEEDBO on!!! Loved how you brought your writing process alive to me. That's wg I love your books.

DebH said...

Tortoise here. If I go any slower, I'd be erasing words. Remembering to just write.

I think it's wonderful, all you do to give back to the military. Very cool.

CatMom said...

Wonderful post, Debby!
Sometimes I'm a tortoise, sometimes I'm a hare - - depends on where I am in my story, and--being very honest here--how I'm feeling physically (and sometimes how much *coffee* I've had, LOL).

Love the beautiful photos you shared. My Georgia neighborhood is also bursting into bloom, and it's so pretty!

No need to enter me in your drawing, because my copy of STRANDED just arrived yesterday! I'd ordered it last week and was thrilled when it was delivered. :)

Hugs, Patti Jo

Keli Gwyn said...

When I first began writing, I wrote so fast my fingers moving over my keyboard were a blur. That was back in the day when I had no idea what I was doing and was writing for the sheer joy of telling a story.

Then I encountered The Rules. Boy howdy, were there ever a lot of 'em. Just when I thought I'd mastered all of them, I would read a blog post, attend a workshop or get feedback from a contest judge and learn about another rule or ten or twenty. My Internal Editor, armed with all that info, kicked in big time. My fingers slowed, and my word counts dropped.

These days I'm learning to find a balance between the two extremes. I'm mindful of The Guidelines (I refuse to call them rules), but when my Internal Editor kicks in during drafting, I ask her to wait her turn. She'll have her fun during revisions and edits.

Do any of you have Internal Editors who like to work overtime? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Cindy W. said...

Hi Debby. Great post! I'm interested in the Alpha Smart. Do you know if they still make them? I guess I can Google them to find out. My problem is I have an internal editor that is always stepping in as I go which delays my writing process to a halt. I thought an Alpha Smart might help me get beyond that.

I would love to win a copy of your book Stranded thank you for the chance.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Mary Preston said...

Fast or slow so long as you get there in the end.

Debby Giusti said...

Good morning, Seekerville!

I've brought blueberry muffins and fresh fruit for a light, almost-Spring breakfast.

The coffee's hot. I'm sipping my first cup. Tea is also available.


Debby Giusti said...


Creating the story idea is what slows me down. Often that takes weeks of rough synopsis writing and many first-chapter trial and errors before I "get" my characters and understand the journey they're about to travel.

Mary Hicks said...

Wow, Debby, love what you said. We have a lot in common.
I thought I was reading about myself ( not the English honors part ) in the way you write.
I start slow and steadily pick up speed and cruise to the end in a nice clip.

DebH said, If I go any slower, I'd be erasing words. :-))

It's a constant battle to quieten the left brain and not allow it to edit every word as I write.

Drawing on The Right Side of The Brain by Betty Edwards is an excellent study on how the creative right side and the analytical left side of the brain work together ( and sometimes against each other ).

Please enter me in the drawing! :-)

Debby Giusti said...

Marianne, thank you so much! You've made my day! Your support and encouragement mean so much to me.


Rhonda Starnes said...

Debby, you and I must be related. I'm the slow tortoise who wants to be fast like the hare. I struggle and agonize over every word written in the first three chapters, but like you the rest of the chapters come along a bit easier.

Thanks for the post. It's nice to know other tortoises have gone on to be successful authors.

Speedbo update: Surgery went well. However, I didn't add any words yesterday because my right hand was numb and unable to function. I tried to type one-landed with my left hand, but that was a struggle and made my head hurt. I have the feeling back in my arm and hand this morning, so I will be writing in-between naps today.

Debby Giusti said...


Laughing in agreement to your comment: "If I go any slower, I'd be erasing words." So true, isn't it! At times, my writing pace is almost at a standstill. That's when my mind needs a break. I take a walk, drink water, listen to music.

I've learned--and try to remember--to step away from problem areas after a period of time. Going back later usually allows me to see more clearly and make the needed changes.

We're all so proud of you, DebH. Full-time job. Young son. Lots of creative graphic work, yet also moving forward on your story. You'll sell whether you're a tortoise or a hare!

Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo,

Thanks for mentioning health. Yes, how we feel impacts our writing. Note to all: Sometimes writer's block can be the result of a physical situation that needs attention. An author friend of mine was struggling to focus and ended up in the hospital with a serious medical condition. We need to listen to our Muse, but also our bodies!

Thank you, sweet Patti Jo, for ordering STRANDED. Sending hugs and love! Thanks for praying for my needs. Having you as a prayer warrior is such a blessing!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Keli,

My Internal Editor is very demanding and needs to be silenced at times. That's when my AlphaSmart helps. All she can do is glance over my shoulder and wait until I download the text to my computer.

I also live with a very vocal Negative Voice! Luckily, I've learned she comes with an on/off switch. :)

I can so relate to what you said about being slowed by the rules. I remember feeling like a juggler, trying unsuccessfully to keep all the balls in the air. Too much input, at times, right? Especially when there was so much I didn't know or understand.

Tina Radcliffe said...

It's all relative. I am slower than Ruth and faster than my cat.


Remember we have a critique and a box of books and a 25$ GC up for grabs too.

Share your progress.

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy W,

The old AlphaSmarts, like mine, are still available on Amazon and eBay. I know some folks have bought used or refurbished models. The company has moved on with newer products, the NEO and Dana (probably even newer models by now), that have more editing options, but are still good.

I'm hoping mine continues to work. Don't know if I could write as quickly without it.

You're in the drawing!

Debby Giusti said...

Getting to the end is what's important. You're so right, Mary Preston!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Hicks!

Sounds as if we're writing sisters. That makes me smile!

Thanks for the info about Betty Edwards. Her book sounds interesting. Daniel Kahneman's book might be a heavy read. During SpeedBo, I need something light and easy to digest! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Rhonda, so glad your surgery went well. Don't overdo. Did you get your doctor's permission to type? So soon?

Learning others work slowly at the beginning of a new story encourages me, as well. Glad we think/work alike!

Debby Giusti said...


Isn't everyone slower than Ruthy? :)

Jackie said...

Great post, Debby. I'd been thinking about my characters and plot on my Speedbo story for a while. I thought I was so ready to start strong, and I started SLOW. It's good to know that's okay as I got a feel for my story.

I'm up to 19,454 words and could still make my goal.

Way to go honoring those who fought the Battle of the bulge. You're a wonderful encourager to our military!

Becky Dempsey said...

I am definitely a tortoise! I hope I find my rhythm as I go on!

Would love to win a book :)

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, congrats on writing all those words. Sometimes we have to ensure the story is headed in the right direction before we dive in too deep.

Of course, I'm a plotter. The pantsers might disagree! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Becky, you're in the drawing.

Don't fret is your pace is slow now. It will increase as you keep working.

Remember the quality vs. quantity example.

Writing improves writing!


Debby Giusti said...

Heading to church for a bit. Keep chatting, I'll catch up as soon as I return.

BTW, I'll see sweet Frank Forth there. He's 92, a bugler still and such a dear man. He exudes the love of Christ. A real hero.

Love our military heroes from the Greatest Generation.

Mary Hicks said...

i worked all day yesterday. Had fun!:-)

Word count for Tuesday: 2,790
Total word count : 19,007
With the Lord willing, I'll reach my goal of 30,000K

I woke at 4:30 this morning and I've written 672 words.
But must stop for now. Wednesday is church day almost all day. :-)

Wilani Wahl said...

I am a slow writer. Even though I have been writing faster this month, I have a feeling I will have a lot of editing to do when I go back after I finish the book.

I have also learned with this first book that I forget facts in the book the longer it takes me to write it.

I need to get it finished quickly if I am going to start a new one for Love Inspired.

At this point it is 84,000 words. I have written a total of 29,000 words this month. Yesterday I wrote 1,651.

Since I am thinking of writing suspense I better get to reading your book so I can learn how.

I realize that since this will be my first attempt at entering anything I may not get past the first round but it will be a good learning experience.

Thanks for all the cheering on and encouragement.

DebH said...

definitely go for it and write, write, write!
when I entered the Killer Voice contest, I had nothing but the first page written. I really didn't think I'd get past the first round and ended up being a finalist (with an R&R for my ms). Without the encouragement from Seekerville, I doubt I could have gotten so far. So I'm hoping to pass along some encouragement to you. And definitely read some LIS books - they are really helpful to show what kind of pacing the editors are looking for.

Debby: you asked - Isn't everyone slower than Ruthy?

my first thought? well, there's Mary Connealy...

someday, when I grow up, I hope to be consistent writing like those two.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love that you brought up the ceramics project.

When Harper Lee's second book was announced, a bunch of (well, more like a bajillion) people were talking on facebook about why she didn't write more.

Well, we don't know that, but the ideas FLEW across the Internet, and the one that bugged me most was the sanctimonious "Well if your first work is a masterpiece, then why write again?"

That makes no sense to me, the writer. To me, Ruthy, I don't care what people do, I dance to my drum, but the writer in me winced... because if you can create beauty-- why wouldn't you?

And that's a puzzle. So regardless of why she did it, I loved your example because when words flow for me, I thank God. Because it's a sharing.

Deb, that ceramics exercise just made my day! I'm not a freak!!!

Jeanne T said...

Debby, I loved this post. I hadn't thought about the fact that quantity gives us the chance to improve with each attempt (at pottery or story-writing), whereas quality slows our forward progress...both in learning and in writing.

Wow. Great post today!! :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Debby,
I enjoyed your "birds-eye view" into the your writing process, it made so much sense to me as I try to understand how it's all accomplished.

Bless you and your giving heart for honoring our military vets and the bugler's too. At my dad's funeral on 2/10 the bugler playing taps was the part of the service everyone commented on as extremely touching. So, thank you for supporting this worthy cause.

Connie Queen said...

I always enjoy your posts Debby.

But I'm more like Keli. When I was new to writing, I wrote much faster. I was freeeeee!

Then I learned head-hopping was wrong. Telling was bad. And half my fun scenes didn't belong anywhere in the book. Wow did that put the brakes on my words.

Now things are much slower. I can still crank out the words if I'm real excited about a scene but overall just try to get the words down.

I can so relate to each and every word being painful to write.

I'd love to win Stranded. If not, I've been meaning to buy it anyway.

Connie Queen said...

And Tina, I'm behind on Speedbo. I really wish the Blurb2Book contest would've came out a month ago. Last year I wrote over 30k on my Killer Voices entry.

Now I'm halting on the book I was working on for Speedbo to work on the contest entry. That's okay though because they are all a part of the same series.
May have to add an April Speedbo.

Debby Giusti said...

Mary Hicks, congrats on your writing success! Wonderful word count. Your fingers are flying across your keyboard!!!

Have a wonderful day focused on the Lord! Say a prayer for me, if you have time. Thanks! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I'm blown away by that study with the kids! It's a huge lesson to me. I have my slower times and faster times too. But this really encourages me to give the faster writing priority.

Thanks for sharing!

Debby Giusti said...


Wonderful word count on your first book. Are you almost finished? What an accomplishment. You should be proud of yourself.

Glad you're going to enter the Blurb to Book Contest. It's a great opportunity and a chance to learn from the editors. Truly, we are blessed at Love Inspired!

You mentioned forgetting facts that you've written. That can be fixed in the rewrites. The first draft is never the finished product so don't worry. All those loose ends will be tied up into a nice bow when you work through the story again.

Jan Drexler said...

Debbie, I'm so glad I'm not alone!

You said, "I inch my way through the first three chapters as I’m getting to know my characters, but by chapter four, I’m reaching for my AlphaSmart and increasing my speed..."

I've been so impatient to get my speed going on my current WIP, but when I read that sentence of yours, I realized the pace I've been doing is just about right. I finished chapter three yesterday!

So the turtle can start picking up the pace without regretting the last couple weeks of slogging through. :)

Thank you!

And Speedbo update: I've been sidetracked by copy edits received March 3rd and due next Monday, and that, along with diddling through the first three chapters, has given me an abysmal word count. Far short of my goal. But I'll keep plugging away. About 10K so far.

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, thanks for offering such encouragement to Wilani and all the others thinking about the Blurb to Book Contest!

I'm laughing at your mention of Mary Connealy's writing speed. She and Ruthy are neck and neck, aren't they? Two whizbang writers who are very, very prolific.

Only in my dreams! :)

Debby Giusti said...


You are so what we all want to be!

Giving thanks for you, sweet friend! :)

Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. Interesting. Perhaps life got in the way. We'll never know.

Debby Giusti said...


I had a friend once who kept working on the same story...for years. She finally self-pubbed. I always felt she made a mistake by not starting something new. So many years have passed and her newly self-published work is all she has. Did I mention that she's a strong writer?

IMHO, she had a fear of success. That's tough to overcome.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for your kind words, Tracey.

The playing of Taps at a veteran's funeral is so special and honors their service, along with the American flag that drapes the coffin. Watching as an honor guard folds the flag and presents it to the spouse or other living relative is always poignant and brings tears to my eyes. The playing of Taps does as well. My father had it played at his funeral. My husband will. So will my son, God willing years from now, when he's an old man and called home to the Lord.

Regrettably, the military does not have enough buglers to handle all the funerals. That's why Bugles Across America was started. It's all volunteer. God bless those who donate their time and talent to bury the dead. An act of mercy and love, for sure.

God bless our military heroes, living and dead.

Debby Giusti said...

Connie Queen, so many of us seem to struggle, especially as we're learning how to write. It does get easier, although I find coming up with new ideas and new GMC is still a challenge.

You're in the drawing! Thanks for your support!


Jamie Adams said...

Great post Debby! I feel a sudden need to go edit out filter words in my wip :)

I love the cover on your new book. I was thrilled when I saw you'd written a suspense in Amish country. It's kind of like you know Ice cream is good and you know brownies are good but whoever first thought to put them together was a genius!

Debby Giusti said...

I read ART & FEAR a few years ago and was surprised, like you, at the quality vs. quantity results.

A good lesson for all of us to remember. We need to keep moving forward.

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Debby! The illustration of the ceramics class is so telling...and not what I expected. I feel desperate most days to get over myself and kick my inner editor to the curb so I can crank out the words. My fear is that I'll end up with so much drivel that I will have wasted all that time and the trouble to fix it will be overwhelming. Most likely, that's unfounded worry. Thank you for the encouragement today!

Debby Giusti said...

Jan, I realized I had to forgive myself and my slow starts. I, too, am encouraged learning others can relate. Those first three chapters are so important and need to be spot on so the rest of the book works. That's my opinion, of course.

Copy edits, revisions, art fact sheets, they all slow our progress and word count. You're doing everything right!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Jamie, you have me laughing.

Brownie and ice cream! YUM!

I'm so glad you like my cover. The cover of Marta Perry's latest HQN calls her story Amish Suspense. So, evidently, that's what I'm writing.

My editor asked if the next book--my WIP--could include the Amish as well. I'm thrilled. Love the mix of the plain life with my military CID agents. I lived near the Amish in Ohio and Pennsylvania and have a real love for the people and their way of life.

Jeri Hoag said...

This really helped validate my struggle. I've been participating in Speedbo, but have gotten bogged down with wanting to fix stuff, so I'm just going to write and let system 2 in much later. Love the posts!

Audra Harders said...

Debby, first let me say, gorgeous pictures! Springtime in GA is a sight to behold!

Ahhh, to find the creative, speedy sweet spot in drafting books. I continually get bogged down in edit-brain. And the more I get bogged down, the slower I write and down goes the quality.

Speedbo and NaNo are great sprint kickstarters for my writing. They help me remember to write words - lots of words - so the slow steady edit side of my brain will have plenty to work with when the time comes to polish.

I, too, have an Alpha Smart. I love taking it with me on day long inspiration writing in the mountains. The batteries last FOREVER. AND, it's fun to hook the AS to my computer and watch it populate the screen with my day's writing.

Thanks for sharing, Debby!

Audra Harders said...

Keli Gwyn, you are not alone. I used love writing for the sheer joy of it. And then The Rules descended.

I'm facing the battle with you. Strength in numbers, right? We will overcome.

Debby Giusti said...


Writing fast doesn't work for everyone.

Plus, as you mentioned, the editing takes additional time.

Try to increase your pace a bit during Speedbo. If it's not right for you, then find what does work.

Moving forward and completing the manuscript is the goal.

Debby Giusti said...


Glad the blog helped! System 1 vs System 2 is an interesting concept. I often give 2 control of my writing, which slows me down.

Now 2 is banished to the corner until I'm ready to edit. :)

Audra Harders said...

LOL, DebH! If I go any slower, I"d be erasing words. I know exactly how you feel!

Debby Giusti said...


Love your word choices!

Kick start!

Sweet spot!

Yes, that's what we all strive to achieve. SpeedBo gets me motivated to produce, even if I don't feel I'm producing fast enough. :)

Are writers ever satisfied?

Like you, I enjoy the tote-ability of the Alpha. You're right about the batteries. They do last forever.

Glad you mentioned the joy of downloading and watching the words type across the screen. I love to check the word count and see what I've produced. Celebrating small successes is important!


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debby, Love the analogy. I am definitely a tortoise also although I never thought so until I started hanging around the Seekers. LOL Compared to you folks I AM a tortoise.

Thanks for the encouragement. And I am an AlphaSmart gal also. Yay for Alpha smarts.

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Sandra...are you playing Pickle Ball today? If so, good luck!

AlphaSmart users rock!


Jill Weatherholt said...

Excellent post, Debby! Some of my better writer has been a result of slapping it on the page as fast as I can and then going back later to "clean up." I love the Gene Fowler quote and the Bradford Pear!

kaybee said...

I've been both, more times than once. I was a hare in the beginning until I began to care about quality and learn more about good writing. Then I began to write slower. Trying to recreate the "hare" dynamic for Speedbo so I can get through this book, which is proving to be tricky. Finding what "works for you" can mean different things to different writers at different times.
Kathy B.

kaybee said...

Already won $25 gift card but would love to be entered for Debby's book or Box of Books.

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I just loved your post today!

You gave me so many ideas and raised so many questions.

"Is Ruth really fast or does she just put in more hours writing than anyone else? There is no doubt the rabbit was fast but he didn't put in the time!"

If you use an AlphaSmart to write outside in a snow storm, it will increase your speed. Literally! It will also help you 5-sense those winter scenes.

"Writing is like golf, you don't want to hit the ball 250 yards on every shot!" (Right Janet)?

"When you're flying a plane and your engine dies, the best speed to fly is not the fastest or the slowest. It's the speed that will give you the most flying range to select a landing site. This is the glide ratio. Every pilot must know this speed for the plane he is flying. Do you know your writing glide ration speed for the story you are writing?"

"There's never time to do the job right but there is always time to do it over." (My old boss's favorite saying.)

Pantsers & Plotters

Pantsers can get off to a fast start because for them at the start every option is open. As they get into the story, however, each page closes an option that could have happened in the future. This problem becomes apparent when they hit the 'sagging middle'.

Plotters get off to a slow start. They have to deal with the 'sagging middle' before they write the first word. They know that doing 'a' in chapter one, precludes doing 'x' in the last chapter.


Does anyone really ask RITA or CAROL if they are fast or slow?


P. S. Please put me in the drawing for "Stranded". I'm really into Amish, Inspirational, Romantic, Southern, Adventure, Military, Suspense, Mysteries. And there is not many places I can get them!

Janet Ferguson said...

A secret gift sounds so intriguing. Great article! I am slowish especially in the beginning, hoping sure and steady wins the race. Not sure that I can ever be the hare, but today, in honor of Speedbo, I've stayed in my bathrobe, writing like my hair's on fire. Yay!

Cindy Regnier said...

Great post Debby! I have to go fast, most of the time. If I slow down to make it "perfect" I usually stop. It's pretty clear that perfect is out of my realm in the writing world. Love, hearing what works for others and experimenting with what might work for me!

Debby Giusti said...

Jill, sounds as if you've got a great System 1 side of your brain--the creative side.

Love that writing fast works for you! Woot!

Aren't Bradford pears beautiful when in bloom! Although I don't like the way they smell. Does anyone find their odor pleasant?

When I read Gene Fowler's quote, I knew I had to include it. LOL!

Debby Giusti said...

So true. To each his own, right?

Glad you've experienced both sides of the writing coin.

Congrats on winning the gift card. You're in today's drawing!

Sarah Claucherty said...

I love the Aesop comparison! So often I feel like I'm not making much progress, or not useful progress, but this post reminds me that any progress is a good starting point.

I'd love to be included in the drawing!


Sarah Claucherty said...

Kahneman's book, Thinking Fast and Slow, is actually really useful to understand how your brain works at different times and tasks and how to manage System 1 and System 2. Had to read it in college, wasn't sure I'd ever use it after, but here you go proving me wrong!

Looking forward to reviewing Kahneman's book for writing aid and reading your new book, Debby!

Cara Lynn James said...

Debby, I'm a 'quality' not 'quantity' girl unless I'm on deadline. Then I'm fast. The writing is just as good when I write quickly.

DebH said...

At my FIL's funeral, he had military honors, but not a live bugler. Two soldiers came to give him honor, but the "bugler" had a little gizmo in his bugle that played a recording of Taps. It sounded pretty good, so I doubt any of the mourners noticed (except me - the writer, soaking in the atmosphere to file away and also trying to document stuff for hubby, who was more preoccupied over the loss of his hero). The presentation of the flag to the widow is definitely a tear jerker moment. It was very nice to have those military men come honor my FIL even though they never knew him. The did their unit proud with their heartfelt condolences to my MIL.
Extra hug for Mr. Frank today please.

put me in the draw as well for book or the weekly stuff. Speedbo goal is slllllllllllooooow going... *sigh* hence my slow/erase comment. glad it's brought some LOLs.

Myra Johnson said...

Wise words here, Debby! Thank you!

Fun to see your pix of the beautiful spring trees and flowers! I was out this morning for a bit, and it's wonderful to see the Bradford pears and cherry trees popping out in gorgeous color! And I'm beginning to see the first signs of trees leafing out--OH JOY!!!!

Jill Weatherholt said...

I agree with you, Debby. The Bradford pears don't have an appealing smell. Despite the smell, I do wish the blooms would hang on a little longer. :)

Rhonda Starnes said...

Debby asked, "Did you get your doctor's permission to type? So soon?"

Yes, ma'am. I did. He had me doing exercises yesterday, and I've already been doing them today. I'm not going to overdo. I am writing in 30 minute increments with breaks in between to rest my shoulder.

Wilani Wahl said...

DebH, Thank yo so much for your words of encouragement.

Chill N said...

Tina Radcliffe said...
It's all relative. I am slower than Ruth and faster than my cat.

Faster than my cat. Love it! :-)

Nancy C

Chill N said...

Debby, I wonder how unique the 'quantity' ceramics were. Given the go-ahead, my internal editor can quickly stomp all the spontaneity out of the story as she strives for quality. I wonder how much going for quantity in a project also encourages uniqueness and spontaneity.

Thanks for the sigh-worthy pictures of blossoms and blooms. May you have many attendees at the book signing. What a lovely cause :-)

Nancy C

Chill N said...

Hit a massive Speedbo bump in final edits -- both beta readers have emergencies that will take time to resolve. Hence I am focusing on another Speedbo goal -- to submit a short story to Woman's World.

Now to see if I can write a coherent story in 800 words.

Nancy C

Kav said...

This is so encouraging, Debby. I often feel like I'm writing through a fog and that definitely slows me down.

I hadn't heard the term 'filter words' before. I wrote them on post it notes with a big X through them and stuck them on the wall.

And don't get me started on show don't tell. I get it...but I don't. Let's just say it becomes obvious when someone points it out to me but otherwise I'm blissfully ignorant. LOL

No need to enter me in the draw -- I've read Stranded and loved it!

Janet Dean said...

Debby, wonderful post!! Amazing to see that quantity trumps quality. As someone who cannot write without editing, this isn't good news, but perhaps I can work at ignoring little things here and there. I'm uncomfortable with my Alpha Smart but will try that again.

Love that your book signing benefits the organization for those who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. You're the greatest!!


Janet Dean said...

Vince, as if I could hit the ball 250 yards anytime! But, you're right. There's different clubs and speeds for different shots.
Some long hitters are out of bounds more than in. I like to hit my ball down the middle. There's no trouble there, but no great scores either.


Sherri Shackelford said...

Well said, Thank you!

Kathryn Barker said...

Thanks Debby for the great reminder to just "getter done!" And, now...I have to get back to it...but would love to be entered in the drawing for your book...Thank you!!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Vince,
Love your question about knowing our writing glide ratio speed. I see a workshop topic you should develop or include in a how-to book!

Ruthy is consistent, but I also think she writes a clean first copy. IMHO, that saves her from having to go back and do heavy edits. I might have it all wrong. Perhaps Ruthy will stop by later today and explain her process. I'm in awe, no matter how she writes!

You've nailed the plotter's need to see the story before she begins. That seems to be the reason I start slow. I need to understand the entire story before I begin to write.

You're in the drawing!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet Ferguson, you've painted a funny visual. Hope your hair's NOT on fire! But glad you're in a writing frenzy...a good frenzy for sure!

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, I don't think any of us reach perfect in our writing. There's always room for improvement.

Glad you've found your stride. Writing fast is good if it works for you!


Debby Giusti said...

Yes, yes, yes, Sarah!

Any progress is good!

You read THINKING FAST AND SLOW! I'm impressed. Check out Joe Bunting's blog. Just click on the blog title in my post, and it will take you to his site. But be sure to come back to Seekerville! Then tell us if Joe got it right. I thought his blog was interesting. :)

Debby Giusti said...

That's a gift, Cara. And your writing is so, so good!

Debby Giusti said...


So glad your father-in-law had an honor guard. I believe it's now required by law if the family makes the request.

Families can also contact Bugles Across America to have a bugler play a live rendition of Taps. I believe they try to accommodate all requests.

Debby Giusti said...


Don't we appreciate the flowers even more after the cold winter!

Glad your area is in bloom too!

Debby Giusti said...

Then it's just not me, Jill! LOL!

I wondered if anyone enjoyed the scent.

The blooms are lush though...and the fall colors are as well.

Debby Giusti said...

So glad you checked with your doctor, Rhonda. That 30 min of keyboard activity followed by a break would be a good rule for all of us, I'm sure!

Hope you keep feeling better and better.

Debby Giusti said...

Nancy C, evidently the THINKING FAST AND SLOW book agrees with the ceramics example. You mentioned your internal editor slowing you down. That's the problem. Writing fast helps us overcome that pesky internal editor.

Debby Giusti said...

You're not alone. Show don't tell is often hard to pinpoint in our own writing. When I find chucks of narrative, I try to turn it into dialogue or work it into the story in a more active--or showing--way. The rewritten section is always better than the narrative. Don't know if that helps you identify telling in your own work.

Sometimes we don't need to go into explicit detail and the telling is okay, such as when we're setting up a scene. But usually the action rewrites are more engaging for the reader.

Some more filtering words I found at
to see
to hear
to think
to touch
to wonder
to realize
to watch
to look
to seem
to feel (or feel like)
to decide
to sound (or sound like)
to notice
to be able to
to note
to experience

Thanks for your support, Kav!


Debby Giusti said...

Janet, your writing style works for you. I wouldn't change a thing! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Sherri and Kathryn!

You're both in the drawing. Thanks for stopping by!

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, HOORAY!!! Debby has brought Bubba T. and Jack Rabbit BACK for another year. :)

Thank you, Debby!!! After 3 years, I had planned to retire them, but you put a new spin on the tortoise and the hare story for the 4th year in a row. Whoot! :)

For anyone who missed Bubba T (T stands for Tenacious, btw) and Jack Rabbit's escapades in 2012, 2013, and 2014, here are the links.

2012 - The Loggerhead and the Swamp Rabbit

2013 - An Interview with Bubba T. Bulldog, aka The Loggerhead

2014 - Bubba T., Jack Rabbit and the Three-Legged Race

Debby Giusti said...

Pam, I'm LOL!


Janet Ferguson said...

Okay, my hair is not actually on fire, ha. Both prizes sound fantastic. Not just the secret prize. Love the flower pic, too.

Debby Giusti said...

You're in the drawing, Janet!

I still love the visual! :)

Amber Schamel said...

Thanks for the post, Debby. I'm still working on that "write fast, edit slow" thing. I still have trouble turning off the internal editor, and sometimes my new writing is still extremely slow. It's usually during transition scenes where I don't have exactly what happens in my mind.

But, I'm keeping up with speedbo, and about halfway to my goal! Yay!

Cheering all the rest of ya'll on from Colorado! WAHOO GO SPEEDBO PEOPLE!

Tanya Agler said...

Debby, Thank you so much for your post. I totally relate to the quick first draft and the subsequent editing stage.

When I edit (and I've been editing during Speedbo), I keep a file of my cut lines. My first, second, third, and fourth (and usually final) draft end up with a lot of cut lines and rearranged scenes. So far I've worked 18 consecutive days in March and am slightly ahead of schedule for the second draft of my work.

My problem is that when I'm near the end of my second draft, I'm starting to plot my next book so I have new characters forming while this book still needs a whole lot of editing.

Enough about me. Thank you, Debby, for sharing your process and how you've arrived at it.

Walt Mussell said...

I never thought of using my Alphasmart like that.

Bettie said...

Great post. Feeling like the tortoise today. Yesterday the rabbit was hopping. Enter me in the drawings. Every one have a blessed day.

LoRee Peery said...

I always enjoy reading about the process of other writers. We are a unique bunch. I still think no writing is wasted writing. If it's just plain no good, we still learn something...but how I LOVE those times when the characters take over and my fingers are flying.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Thank you, veterans, and thank you Debby for remembering them in such a wonderful way. You're da best!

Boy did I need this today. But I must say, #Speedbo2015 is helping me beat my IE into submission. My writing is awful for now, but I'm getting things on screen and making progress in the story. Yesterday I slogged, today, had a couple scenes that sang. YAY!

I love to edit so, that's my treat when I get "the end" typed!!!

Appreciate your wise advice. Thank you. :)

Would love to win your latest (congrats by the way) and happy signing!!!

Natalie Monk said...

Oh my goodness! I thought I'd commented last night, but apparently Blogger ate my comment, and I didn't check to see if it showed up. Ha!

Such an encouragement! With each project, I want it to be the best I could possibly make it ever. :s Proves I'm type A and need to chill, I guess. But the learning process is twice as fun during the execution. Thanks for bringing us this post! That story about the art class really hit home with me! I'll be remembering that.

Debby Giusti said...

Half-way to your goal is fantastic! You're doing everything right! Big High Five...and a hug!


Debby Giusti said...

Tanya, do you save your cut lines in case you want to include them later? I do that. I never delete text completely until I'm happy with the finished manuscript.

If I happen to delete a line or two of text, that's always what I know would be a perfect fit in one of the scenes. I create files that say EXTRA TEXT and EXTRA TEXT 2!

Sounds as if you're getting excited about your next book as you finish the WIP. That's probably a very good thing to do. Then you're ready to jump into the next story ASAP!

Debby Giusti said...

How do you use your Alpha, Walt?

Debby Giusti said...


Smiling at your change from hare to tortoise. I can relate!

The good thing is you're writing!


Debby Giusti said...

LoRee, I agree. Love when the characters demand to be heard!

Even a plotter has those special moment of pure inspiration. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi May and KC!

Glad SpeedBo is working for you, KC! I enjoy editing as well. But I need pages first. Edits come later.

You're in the drawing!


Debby Giusti said...

Many of us were surprised by the ceramic class example. Who knew!

We all do now! SpeedBo has taken on even more value.

Always great to see you in Seekerville!

Sandy Smith said...

Debby, you are describing my writing exactly. I have faithfully written my 1000 words a day and now have over 18000 words, but they do sound like the most amateurish prose ever. I also envy those who can sit down and write great scenes in their first draft. I also use those filter words you talked about. My favorite seems to be looked. My characters are always looking. Sometimes they peer, stare or gaze, but they are always looking!

Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, I'm laughing at your "looking!" Seems with each book I come up with a favorite word. Like looking...or shrugging...or ensuring...or pursing...or whatever! Funny, isn't it!

Good for you writing 18,000 words! Sandy, that's fantastic.

You'll whip that prose into shape when you go back and edit. Don't worry. I work through my pages quickly the first time, making easy changes, then do it again, and again. Somehow the writing always gets better.

The tough part is creating the initial pages.

You're in the drawing!

Becky Dempsey said...

Speedbo update: I didn't work on my WIP today as we made the 45 minute trip to Menards to get a new garage door spring and didn't have the right information so we had to drive back home and back to Menards again! I did meet my word count for the day, though so not totally bad.

Jess said...

Hi guys!

It feels like a million years since I last dropped in on day 4 I think!! Wow, my life kind of got really crazy for two weeks and I could barely stay awake during the day and was falling asleep by 7pm kind of stuff. So the writing fell off the radar for a while.

I'm getting back in the swing of it today, but I feel rusty!! The pull to put my feet up and relax is very strong at the moment.

I was asking God about my writing and the answers I keep getting is to just keep writing. So I'm back trying to do this writing thing!

Thanks for listening!!

Debby Giusti said...

What a day, Becky! Congrats on writing with everything else going on! And you made your word count! High Fives and hugs to you!

Debby Giusti said...

God gives good advice! Keep writing! If it's a dream, only you can make it come true.

I'm confident! You will succeed!

Julie Lessman said...

"DEBBY, DEBBY ... I'M A TORTOISE TOO," Julie shouts, jumping up and down, so I LOVED this post!!

You said, "Keep in mind, both the hare and the tortoise ran the race."

Thank you for that because when I measure myself against hares like Mary and Ruthy, I feel pretty darn slow, but the truth is that God is working through each of us, fast or slow, and He will accomplish what He wants to do.

Thanks for the great post -- it was an encouragement to me. :)


Lyndee H said...

Love the 'writing is easy' comment. Should become my mantra! Congrats on the new release, Debby. Wonderful post!

Leola Ogle said...

Great post, Debby. And I love all the pictures. Most days I'm a tortoise longing to be a hare.

jubileewriter said...

I see the value of what you are saying. This is the first time I have done Speedbo. I am finding I can write more in a day than I realized. Not stopping to edit every word is a challenge. I love deadlines. I find myself more productive.

Dee LeRoye said...

My basement walls have been cracking and leaning in for several years. A few Blue Racers have taken the speed out of Speedbo for me this dry March. So I'm cleaning house instead of writing. Didn't know I had so much "junk" to move 5 feet from 4 walls to allow repair....finally. I will MAKE time to read "Stranded" if it shows up in my mailbox. Intriguing story, I think.

Deanna Stevens said...

enjoyed the post today. today I feel like a tortoise.. I can't wait for our tree's to bloom out front. loved the flower pictures..
toss me into the dish please :)

Carroll Pellegrinelli said...

This was a great article as usual Debby. Until I can let go of that fear of making a mistake, I will always write like the turtle.

Dana McNeely said...

Yep, I'm a tortoise, who has lately been forcing myself to try a few windsprints. Thanks for an encouraging post.

Susanne Dietze said...

Excellent post! I am definitely a tortoise, but I'm working on letting things go, writing for speed, and editing/fixing later...which is more fun for me, anyway. First drafts can be torture!

Thank you, Debby!

Olivia said...

Thanks, Debby,for grappling with the dilemma of quality versus quantity. I have regarded my quick, impulsive type of writing as somehow less worthy than the thoughtful editing that follows. Thank you for letting me see that they are truly both sides of the same coin. Please enter my name in the drawing for your wonderful new book.

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Great post, Debby! Thanks for sharing with us today!

Loraine Nunley said...

I am sooo the tortoise this week! Thanks for the great article Debby. I am so encouraged to keep moving forward.

TheNewKaren said...

I started out March with the goal of writing just 500 words a day, every day. I did great at the beginning. By the 11th, I had missed writing on 4 of the 11 days, but told myself that was fine since I had written 8,031 words during the 7 days I did write. The problem is life got in the way and nothing has been written since the 11th.

Your post has motivated me to get back to writing and see how far the rest of the month can take me. I am still ok with having written as much as I have this month because until now I have been a November only writer (I am 2 time NaNoWriMo winner 2013 & 2014) who doesn't write except for NaNo. My goal for 2015 is to become a year-round writer. Thanks for the post, it was very inspiring.