There is a fundamental unfairness to the speed with which I create words and the speed with which you, probably consume them.
You may be a slow reader, a deliberate reader, or even a widely distracted reader, someone with one of the many focus challenges that I and my cohort are often afflicted (though I do think in the case of myself whatever is wrong with my brain is a byproduct of behaviours inflicted, not something wrong with the wiring at a base level and yes I recognise that even in saying that I am somehow trying to absolve myself from talking to a doctor and getting diagnosed or maybe even medicated in a way that will help me and make my life better but what’s a better time to stop a habit of a life time) and that means that while you may find it very challenging to say, read a thousand words, you’re much more likely to simply not read them than you are to struggle through them over the course of a day. If you are inclined to read long form articles like this one (how long is it? I don’t know yet, I’m not done) then you probably read at a pretty typical speed which
new tab let’s check the numbers not just going off memory
okay so first link I hit says it’s about 200-250 words a minute, sure that’s fine let’s treat that like that’s true. That means a thousand word article is going to take something between four and five minutes to read through and that article, assuming it has images, references and citations and any modicum of research did not take four minutes to write through. Some articles take literally days of broken-up effort, revision upon revision to make sure I’m not misrepresenting an idea or a making a point badly, or really, to just come back to find what it is was I thought was fun about approaching this idea in the first place.
You notice the breathless pace here? Yeah, I’m writing this as a stream of consciousness. Trying to use the backspace key as little as possible and trying to keep my fingers going which means that I am not doing much to keep the thoughts in my head, stewing around in a little cage to make sure only the good ones get out. I haven’t degenerated to the point where I’m having to make sure I’m not just repeating some pat phrase like I know my brain resorts to at some point – for the longest time as a little kid, I knew that if left to my own devices I would start talking about the DOOM rocket launcher, though not in any meaningful way. I’d just start saying ‘rocket launcher,’ as if I was introducing the concept to a newsreader, realise I’d just done that very weird behaviour aloud, hope I hadn’t done it around anyone who could recognise me or hear me, and then move on with my life.
Anyway, the point is this is me trying to speedrun a thousand words. Checks word count oh hey it’s 534 words at this point, that’s not a great sign, but also doing a bit better than I thought I would be.
Writing a thousand words as quickly as possible, while still trying to hold onto some coherent expression (and honestly betray the mindset of the person who’s engaging in the practice) is a challenge that serves no purpose and yields no reward but does serve, to me to make it very clear exactly the differential between the speed of reading versus the speed of writing. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that, at this point, I do not predict this will be a good article, nor even a particularly clever one, if only because you didn’t need to see the divergence into how I would occasionally start conversations with the air like I was being interviewed on the television by Kermit the Frog, intrepid reporter, and yes, hi, Corey, I know the jpg you’re about to send me.
What it does do however, is make me think about scale.
Because yes, I cannot write a thousand words as quickly as you can read a thousand words (at least, if you’re reading like a book; in a conversation you may not realise how many words fly past you very quickly, and listening to a thousand words on an audiobook has a much more stable meter, for a variety of reasons including best practices and accessibility). But when I write a thousand words down, and you take four minutes reading it, that time differential is pretty bad, for my effort vs your enjoyment. But if it took me forty minutes to write and it takes you four minutes to read and there are nine of you then well boy howdy – I’ve broken even.
And what if we scale it up?
What if instead of me writing a thousand words in forty minutes, I spend weeks and months honing my craft to excecute a forty minute performance. Not the writing, now, no; because as you know, tomorrow is the start of another Games Done Quick Marathon, in which this question in my mind of speed lurks large.
I thought to myself, what could I write about, during GDQ, that would fit the theme of GDQ, since we’re talking about speedrunning already in all the socials? What would that look like? What kind of things are going to unfold from just that starting point of how fast can bleep bloop bloop bleepily?
This is one of the answers.
That creating things often involves putting in work that is rendered invisible and sometimes dissolved by the experiencing of it. And that that’s okay. And that all of this, in a way, is a performance; that my words are inert, until animated by your mind and the reading, just as the speedrun is an invisible form of play, animated by the player who seeks it. Foucault said something about speedrunning, kinda.
This is a thousand and nineteen words. It took ten minutes.