Fast Draft, by the numbers

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,



7 people like this post.

38 thoughts on “Fast Draft, by the numbers”

  1. Nancy LauzonNancy Lauzon

    This reminds me of what I did for NaNoWriMo – I finished the first draft of my next novel, mostly by writing a lot of horrible prose and fairly good dialogue. It’s really just the skeleton of what will be the final, but at least I got it done =)

  2. Marcy KennedyMarcy Kennedy

    I’m not taking the course, but I do want to try fast drafting. I’m a pitifully slow writer, so I want to experiment and see if I can write faster without significantly decreasing the quality of what I write. If you’re going to have a group somewhere and would allow a person who’s not taking the course to try the journey with you, I’d be interested in knowing when, etc.

    • Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

      Marcy, I’m going to have the loop open during the July 7th class for anyone who wants to Fast Draft along with me. Are you in?

  3. Amy Kennedy FosseenAmy Kennedy Fosseen

    Kathy, I already miss it…and everyone in it!

    I know I can push myself anytime I want to, yet to have the sense of a pack of writers doing the same thing and cheering each other on — it makes all the difference in the world.

    Right now, I’m gathering my writing — getting it all on my laptop, organizing my office, and re-grouping. I was stuck on so many plot issues before fast draft, and now most have been made clear, so I want to note card the rest of my book.

    I love that you posted this Kathy!

  4. Jill KemererJill Kemerer

    138 pages!!! You rock!!

    I was laughing out loud at your bathtub caulking comment. I’ve fixed furniture scratches, rolled change, and cleaned out linen closets as prerequisites for writing. I’m so with you!!


  5. Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)

    How impressive is that! November (NaNo) is my fast draft month. June is my psycho month at work. And it is psycho indeed. Only two more days until vacation though!

    Thanks for the shout, too. It’s amazing the story that numbers tell.

    • Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

      You and me are on the same vacation schedule, Leanne!! Any chance you’ll be in the Seattle area? (If so, we’ll hook up!)

  6. Rachel Funk HellerRachel Funk Heller

    Hi Kathy, thanks for making the Fast Draft so much fun. As I mentioned, I’m working on creating a Fast Draft Prep Class, because several of us seemed to really hit the wall at around 50,000 words and I’m hoping with a set of prep exercises, that you’ll see the wall coming and will be ready to charge on through. I’ll keep you posted over at WANATribe. Thanks again for such a great post and I miss all of you guys too! xoxoxoxox

    • Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

      I know! I’ll be back at it on July 7th, but still…

  7. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    Sounds like you all got a crazy amount done—congrats! And some of those lessons learned could be worth the effort alone. “Don’t wax lyrical…” Awesome. 🙂

  8. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    Wow! I am so impressed with all of the Fast Drafters! I wish I could have joined, but it’s summer with kids home and I’m editing, not writing. Maybe in the fall?

  9. Nigel BlackwellNigel Blackwell

    Hi Kathy.

    Everyone did amazingly well. 138 pages and Rachel finished her wip! Awesome.

    The fast draft was fun. It was hard at times, getting home from work late and writing, but the consistency help so much. Rarely did I have to look back over anything because it was all fresh in my mind. To me the most important goal was to get to the end. What I finished with is in serious need of a rewrite, but that’s ok, because I already have a good knowledge of one way to write the story, along with what work and what didn’t. Like Edison, I’ve ticked off one way not to perfect the light bulb.

    Having a support group was really motivating. I felt sad when people had problems and couldn’t write. A couple of times I didn’t feel like writing, but when I read what everyone else was achieving, I did, and found I liked it.

    Thanks for all the help from you and all the rest of the group!

    Cheers 🙂

    • Amy KennedyAmy Kennedy

      Nigel, I agree — it was so much easier to pick up the writing the next day, no going over your draft, or re-reading your notes. The story was/is there knocking away at your brain, helllooooo, it says, write meeeee.

  10. Sheila SeabrookSheila Seabrook

    Kathy, I enjoyed hearing everyone’s thoughts on the Fast Draft process. Sounds like you all had a blast and even though it was so much work, you guys did amazing things. Congratulations to you all!!!

  11. Paul OwenPaul Owen

    Congratulations, everyone, on the shared success. For my part, I’m glad my kids are no longer complaining about being fed peanut butter sandwiches and fruit roll-ups for the 14th dinner in a row. Kathy, you actually seem grateful to be back grilling real food for your family. I think we all appreciate each other a little more after two weeks and 138 pages!

  12. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    Sounds AMAZING and congrats to all of you on your incredible success. I always find it so interesting to see how a group or pack mentality can be harnessed and used to our advantage. Woot woot!
    Love the lessons learned….

  13. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    Hey, Kathy, thanks for this post. I’d been wondering what you all were up to with this fast draft stuff. I may try it next time some of you are going to do it (can’t this round because helping with grandchildren this summer). Usually my first draft comes out fairly fast, what I heard one author call the ‘vomit’ draft at a conference last year. But my current WIP has been slow going. It just isn’t flowing like it normally does. Maybe a fast draft group would be the kick in the butt I need!

  14. Juliana HaygertJuliana Haygert

    Good karma, yay!
    And I’m ready to do it all over again 😉

  15. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    Whew, Kathy, sorry to be late. But I had major computer issues this week. Crazy!

    LOL, you just couldn’t help yourself girl! Get post. I miss everybody! We should make a link and stay in touch. I loved the everyday support. Although we do have that on our wana1011 facebook page. Oh, and I did see your video on Jenny’s blog. It’s crazy when you get to hear someone’s voice. You did a great job with the video. Miss you already Kathy! 🙂

  16. Reetta RaitanenReetta Raitanen

    138 pages?! Hot damn. Congratulations. That is a truly epic and inspiring achievement.

    Like Marcy, I am a very slow writer. I could definately benefit from Fast Drafting. The summer is for finishing school projects, though. But I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo.

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