A Brief Review of
How to Write Fast Under Pressure.
Paperback: AMA.COM, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
I do a fair amount of writing for The Englewood Review and other publications, and juggling the responsibilities of family, other work and writing often leaves me pinned up against ultra-tight deadlines. Thus, I was eager to explore the wisdom offered in Philip Vassallo’s new book, How to Write Fast Under Pressure. I should have not been surprised since the book was published by The American Management Association, but Vassallo focuses primarily on writing in a business environment: minutes, emails, requests, etc. Although this is not primarily the sort of writing that vexes me most, there are some excellent ideas here about time management and creating an environment for writing that will be helpful to most writers. The trajectory of the book is summarized in Vassallo’s acronym DASH:
DIRECTION: Hitting the ground running with the end in mind
ACCELERATION: Moving quickly through any writing assignment
STRENGTH: Possessing the stamina to get the writing job done.
HEALTH: Maintaining productivity through your writing life (22).
Two of the most helpful facets of How to Write Fast Under Pressure were the “Three Big Questions” which Vassallo offers to clarify the direction of a writing project, and the “common energy stoppers” that would interrupt the flow of a writer’s work. The three big questions that Vassallo names in order to give shape to the direction of a writing project are:
1) “Where Am I Going?” (i.e., what is the task at hand?).
2) “When Must I Get There?” (i.e., what is the deadline?).
3) “How Am I Going to Get There?”
The other facet of this book that was particularly beneficial were Vassallo’s “energy stoppers” that threaten to deter our work as writers; these include:
- Having no plan when we need one.
- Trying to complete all of the writing process simultaneously.
- Making of the message more than it really is
- Worrying unnecessarily.
Because of its dual focus on business and speed, Vassallo tends to favor quantity over quality, which is not helpful for most of the sort of writing that I do, but otherwise there is some helpful reflection on the writing process here, which is worth the consideration of not just professional writers, but anyone whose work includes writing – which I suspect, as does Vassallo, is most of us.