badge created by Rachel Funk Heller

To give you a sense of what Fast Draft is all about, along with the craziness that gets mixed in along the way, I’m going to adopt a tactic by humor writer and blogger Leanne Shirtliffe.  Here is…

Fast Draft, by the numbers:

14 – days of Fast Draft

20 – page goal per day

13 – participants (in no particular order):  Amy KennedyJenny HansenNigel BlackwellKristen LambIngrid SchaffenburgCallene RappJuliana HaygertRachel Funk HellerJess WitkinsKaren McFarlandDawn SticklenGene Lempp, and me (lucky 13).

1 – new business is launched, to serve the needs of artists: WANA International, “Connecting the Hearts” (ushered into the world by Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg).  Click here to learn more.

3 – craft classes prepared/taught

52 – blog posts written

1– writer who kept insisting she really wasn’t part of Fast Draft (but she totally was, not only as our biggest cheerleader, but as someone who kept plugging away at her writing every day, and pushed herself.  Yes, Karen, I’m talking about YOU).

1 – eardrum rupture (ouch, Jenny!)

2 – instances of Fast Draft Good Karma (ask Amy Kennedy and Juliana Haygert!)

305 (and counting) – emails sent between members

2 – completed first-drafts

? – days of lapsed hygiene (no one’s fessing up, LOL)

300,000 (approx) – words written by the group


But we got even more than new pages from the process.  Each writer gained an understanding of him/herself, and what could be accomplished through dedication, enormous quantities of caffeine, hard work, sour patch kids, planning, and badgering encouragement.

Lessons learned, as contributed by some of the participants:

Amy (who came away with 32 more pages):

Lessons learned:
Gertrude Stein was right — “To write is to write is to write is to write…is to write.”
It’s okay to keep writing even if you don’t know the herione’s best friend’s last name.
When in doubt (or writer’s block), blow-up something.  (KBO: love this, Amy!)

Nigel (who came away with 51,ooo words):

1) Write less. Don’t wax lyrical, just get plenty of dialog and simple statements for narrative.

2) Dialog is the most important thing.

3) When you don’t know what to do, have your characters talk to each other. Even if it’s crap you will eventually hit on the right direction. Throw the crap out later.

4) Update your list of characters attributes as you go along. Mine have changed and when I revise I’ll have a list of what I thought they should be like at the end.

5) Write every day, whether you feel motivated or not. It is easier to keep going than to start over

Rachel (who wrote 21,346 words in the first 5 days, to finish her WIP):

For me, the best part of this is having had the opportunity to check in with everyone to see how they are doing, to see how EVERYONE has pitched in to help boost morale. It helps us keep each other honest and makes the process so much more fun than just slogging away alone.


These are all fab take-aways, don’t you think?  I would add that, for me, advance preparation made a huge difference (including, strangely, re-caulking the tub…yeah, I don’t know why I felt I had to do that, either).

Simple things – menu-planning (hubby had valiantly stepped up to cook the dinners), knocking out errands, having the plot outline set, going over with the family what I’d be doing – were not only practical, but also put me in the right mindset.  Let’s face it, it’s daunting to sit down to write 20 pages per day for 14 days in a row – with no whining, no excuses, and no days off, except for something awful and life-altering.  I especially missed the whining, LOL. 😉

So, how did I do?

I wrote 138 pages.  *happy dance*

What did I learn?

I learned that when you put writing first and set your goals high, amazing things can happen.  But only if you silence your Inner Critic – you know, the one who’s always looking over your shoulder, saying: “this stinks; youre not seriously going to put that in there, are you?”  Keep her busy matching your socks or something; gag her if you have to.  She’ll get her turn during the revision process.  For the first draft, she’s a Debbie Downer.

I also learned that the support of other writers going through the same process at the same time really helps keep you going.  No matter who’s already published and who’s not, we’re all grappling with the same obstacles as we push ourselves to turn over fresh pages.  These writers were a fabulous, supportive bunch!

If you’re a writer, working on a first draft, why not give Fast Draft a try?  All you have to lose are your inhibitions (no, not the toga-party kind).  Romance writer Candace Havens is offering a workshop, starting July 7th, called Fast Draft and Revision Hell, which several of our group will be taking (’cause one round of Fast Draft just wasn’t fun enough for them, LOL).

One more thing…

With all that writing, who has time to be checking to see if the kids have gotten off the computer when they were supposed to?  Well, your PC can take care of that for you!  If you haven’t had enough of me yet today, check out my guest video at Jenny Hansen’s place.  In a quick 4-minute clip, I’ll show you how to use your Windows 7 computer to set time limits for your munchkins, using a nifty parental control feature.  The computer kicks them off, not you!  It’s super easy, so I hope you’ll stop by and take a look!

Congrats to all the Fast Drafters, and good luck to the ones to come!

Until next time,



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