The average speed-reader learns to read twice as fast with half the comprehension. Normal reading comprehension is about 55%; speed-reading comprehension is about 27.5%. Before choosing to speed-read something, you need to decide if you’re okay with understanding so little. Sometimes it will be acceptable; for example, when you just want the big picture on a topic.
Because normal reading comprehension is 55%, anything you need to know thoroughly is worth reading twice. It’s a must, actually. But, this article is about taking the speed-reading route. How can speed-reading help your writing?
Speed-Reading Helps You Research Faster
Think of how much you read when you research. You read fluff material with very little info. You read info that’s off track but interesting. You read material that’s right on track but doesn’t deliver all the info you need. You also read articles and books that are exactly what you need. You may even read some of your own old articles and books to make sure you aren’t repeating yourself.
If you speed read all of that material, you will understand only half as much as reading at normal speed. That’s a good thing for the material that doesn’t feed your research. It’s also a good thing for what’s on target. When you read it a second time at normal speed, you get a combined comprehension of 82.5%. Yes, I heard that objection. There will be some overlap. My estimate is high.
Speed-reading helps you revise faster
If you only write short articles and stories, speed-reading might not make a big difference. One way to make it useful, is to work on many short pieces. Read through your works in progress quickly; revise, move on to the next piece, and go go go.
If you write long papers or books, speed-reading can help a lot.
Almost nobody writes the first draft of a book in one sitting. Between sittings, life happens and you forget where you were. Speed-reading is a great way to play catch up in any draft. It’s also the faster way to review other chapters for info to maintain consistency in your story or text.
Speed-reading is also the fastest way to proofread for flow. When the flow isn’t smooth, you will suddenly become bogged down. Ask yourself what went wrong and fix it. Other kinds of proofreading will require you to read slower than normal; sentence structure and spelling, for example.
Final draft readings are also speed-readings. I read my final drafts far too many times and yet it still isn’t enough. Mistakes still get published. Speed-reading can help. So can putting time between final draft readings.
In this article, I’ve been practicing cutting unnecessary words and sentences. I hope it isn’t too short to be interesting.