Today is the first day of a 14-day “fast draft” that several writers and I are doing together. What is fast draft, you ask? The original concept by romance author Candace Havens is a breathless writing pace: 20 pages per day for 14 days, no excuses. By the end, the writer has a complete draft to edit.
Why so fast? After all, that’s even more ambitious than National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when you write the first draft of a novel in 30 days.
The idea is to get ahead of one’s Evil Internal Editor, that inner voice that criticizes what you’re writing, and bogs you down. With Fast Draft, you do NOT re-read what you wrote the day before. Since you’re spending every day writing (over multiple hours), it’s fresh in your mind anyway. Personally, I prefer it to NaNo because it’s not in November (any time you want, actually), and I figure I can do anything for only 14 days. *wink*
It’s incredibly helpful (I’d say absolutely necessary) to be working with a team of fellow writers who are all going through this process at the same time. After all, writing so much while putting the rest of your life on hold can be daunting. It’s wonderful to have one another to cheer each other on. This time around, we have the following fab writers participating:
Dawn Hobbie Sticklen
Here’s what some of them have to say about the process:
“The benefit of Fast Drafting is that you get to see your story play out in your mind’s eye in real time. This is where your plot ideas finally gel into a complete narrative. But to get the biggest payoff, you need to be prepared. You want to have the big moments set up, the opening, the ending, and hopefully the worst moment from the middle. This process will help you fill in those big chunks in between. ~Rachel Funk Heller
I’ve never signed up for anything like this, but it feels like a perfect fit. I’m working on a project that’s exciting and a bit scary (okay, borderline terrifying) and can really use others’ support. Knowing we’re in this solitary-work-called-writing thing together, cheering one another on, is golden. I’m already inspired and it hasn’t even started yet — HA! ~August McLaughlin
The benefit of Fast Drafting is it allows one to outrun the inner critic, to avoid the research rabbit hole, and the word search trap. The story telling takes over, filling in the gaps in the outline, and leaving the editing for a later draft. ~Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Getting the most out of fast drafting requires some advanced planning. Even for pantsers (writers who prefer to write “by the seat of their pants”), an exploration of characters, theme, and plot is needed. No one wants to stare at that blank screen and blinking cursor without some idea of where they are going!
One of my favorite resources for preparing to write the first draft (whether you are doing it quickly or more sedately), is Rachel Funk Heller’s The Writer’s Coloring Book. The workbook helps writers explore the story’s theme, character profiles, and scene dynamics in both analytical and creative ways. Dig out your colored pencils!
Another resource I love (I’m a plotter at heart) is Author Jami Gold’s worksheets for writers. These are available in MS Excel and Word, and provide useful ways to structure your story.
Jami is an avid fast-drafter, too. Here’s her take on why fast drafting works:
For me, when I write, I’m always struggling to get outside of my writerly head–the doubt of whether this sentence is good, that word choice works, or even whether this plot event will lead to where the story needs to go. Fast-drafting is a shortcut for tapping into our subconscious and getting beyond all that chatter. It’s about getting deep into our characters and the story, becoming immersed in the experience, and finding our “writing zone.”
In addition to writing prep, there are some practical things to plan for in advance, especially if you are the primary meal provider and your family has this thing about not going without food for 14 days (the cat is especially vocal). The crockpot becomes my best friend during this time, along with convenience foods such pre-cooked chicken and pre-cut veggies. Having a supportive family (my guys are great sports) is awesome. I try to get ahead with the laundry and grocery shopping beforehand, but 14 days is a long time, so they pitch in when needed.
So, wish us luck! For you readers of the Concordia Wells Mysteries, I am hard at work on book #5 of the series. Somehow, the lady professor always finds a way to get into trouble….
Interested in my previous experiences with fast drafting? Check out these posts:
What projects do you have going on that require major planning and support? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
P.S. – Be sure to check out the following post for my giveaway and flash fiction fun! Entry deadline is January 31.