Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fast Drafting Series, Post #2

This post looks at the fast drafting experience and the aftermath. Post #1 is here.

The whole fast drafting experience

The Good Stuff

Firstly, there's the sheer exhilaration gained from words flowing from my fingertips, words that I had not consciously thought of writing. There's something about having your logical mind focus on the wordcount goal that frees up your imagination and inspiration to create without censure. This was my main motivation in trying the fast drafting, getting away from my inner critic and just letting the magic spill out of me.

Then there's the immense satisfaction of reaching the daily wordcount and of seeing the story progress. It might not work for everyone, but if you're someone who enjoys a challenge and will not back down no matter how difficult the challenge appears to be, then fast drafting could very well work for you.

Then there's the sense of fulfilment that comes from finishing a first draft. Actually finishing it! Until now I've been stuck with the mindset of "Writing is difficult, it takes AGES to achieve something tangible and it's all an uphill battle, blah blah blah", when the fact is that it doesn't have to be that soul-destroying or tedious. It can actually be fun and fulfilling and satisfying as well as yielding results. Until I tried fast drafting, it did not even occur to me that I could actually write a first draft in 2 weeks, or that others had been doing just that since Candace Havens created the method.

Lastly, I have finished the first draft of a WIP that has been 'stuck' since 2004 or so. I cannot express the relief I feel that the thoughts of "You're blocked, the story's going nowhere, it's a bad story, give it up and move on". Those thoughts warred with the belief inside me that the story was worth telling. Worth it to me. I very much wanted to explore the themes that had developed since the first initial writing I did in 2004 and to have fun with the characters who have grown over the years. And I have. <happy sigh>

The not-so- good stuff 

Some days were plain hard to get the writing going. I had to tackle immense resistance within myself to stay sitting down and just write. Those were the days when I hadn't done my warm up exercises (which I wrote about in the first post).

Some nights I fell into bed completely exhausted because I'd started writing late in the evening when I was already tired. And no matter what time I went to bed at, I had to be up the next morning as soon as my little guy woke up and started bouncing around the bedroom. :)

Perhaps the most difficult part of fast drafting is the effect it had on my little guy. There were nights when I didn't make it home from the library in time to say goodnight to him. I wasn't around very much in the afternoon and he was aware of that absence, too. And when children feel unsettled, they act up. The sad thing is, that's the only way they can communicate those unsettled feelings at that age. And it's important to be understanding and gentle with him when his behaviour does not look like it used to. It took him about two weeks after I finished fast drafting to realise that things were back to normal, including the bedtime ritual of me tucking him into bed and sitting with him holding his hand till he falls asleep.

And of course, I didn't get to spend time with my husband either. He'd come in the door from work, I'd have his meal on the table, kiss him goodbye and head out to the library, my head full of my characters and scenes. So not only was he working during the day, he was not getting much down time afterwards. Pretty full on for him! And yet I couldn't have done this without his support and encouragement. So, hon, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

The aftermath

I had a few ideas for what I could do to get started on the revisions and re-writing.
  1. Martha Alderson's PlotWriMo in December. She has also produced an ebook, Blockbuster Plots: Before the next draft for anyone who wants to work through the process at their own pace whenever they want (not just in December, I mean);
  2. Rebecca from the Perth:South team in NaNo Land is organising a regional NaNoEdMo in January and it's going to be great to have other writers to work alongside;
  3. Susan Dennard's guide to revisions (Scroll down the page to the section headed Revising Your Novel.) I found this while I was googling for revision-related articles and tips and I've read through the guide. It's thorough. This is definitely one resource I'll be using in January;
  4. Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris. The blurb sounds great - an easy, learn-as-you-write process;
  5. Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel bootcamp. I'm still mulling this one over. If Susan Dennard's guide was thorough, this is major revision surgery. MAJOR! But by golly you'll have a story that's tight by the end of it;
  6. The EDITS lectures by Margie Lawson. I'm also seriously considering adding this resource to my revision toolkit for January. Margie is a psychologist who helps writers to go deep into their stories to make them the best they can be;
  7. Jamie Gold's workshop on Story Planning for Pantsers also included some ideas for how to use the beat sheets for revision. I need to go back and listen to the recording to refamiliarise myself with the procedure.

So, do I recommend fast drafting or not?

Yes. But with caution.
  • If you want the cleanest fast draft you can possibly produce, and you're at the start of your writing career, then fast drafting probably isn't for you.
  • If you do NOT want to cause any upset in your family's routine, then fast drafting probably isn't for you.
  • If you are more interested in being a writer, rather than doing what is necessary to become one, then fast drafting probably is not a sane challenge to undertake.
  • If you like to take your time, mull things over, wait until the perfect word or sentence has been created in your mind before you write, then fast drafting is definitely not for you.
  • If you don't enjoy challenges (insane ones, anyway), then fast drafting is not for you.

  • If you want to get the WIP written and bypass your rational thinking mind at the same time, fast drafting could be for you.
  • If you want it written quickly so that it causes the least amount of disruption to your family (in terms of how long it takes to knock out that first draft), then fast drafting could be for you.
  • If you're a scanner-writer, fast drafting could very well be for you! (It was for me.)
  • If you have limited time - for example, a holiday or short break from your day job - and you'd like to get that WIP knocked out, then fast drafting could very well work for you.

So, that's been my fast drafting journey. I hope these two posts have been of some use to anyone who's thinking about fast drafting. I would recommend checking out Candace Haven's workshops page to see when she's running the next Fast Drafting workshop because I'm sure she'll have tips and tricks to share. I had to learn what works for me the hard way, and I could still be missing something that would make the process easier.

Anyone else fast drafted? Have you any thoughts to share?


  1. thank you for some splendid links - I will certainly be adding a couple of them to the next step of edits (new year)well done on finishing the fast draft - fastest for me has been nano but leaves me with a mess of editing. all the best:)

  2. Thanks, Alberta. My ms is very likely a bit of a mess too, but I know the gold nuggets are in there when I think back to how I felt after some of the sessions. And using Jami Gold's beat sheets have helped me to follow a structured storyline, so that should help somewhat. :)

  3. I've fast-drafted and I loved it! If only it wasn't so hard on my family, I'd do it all the time. But, like you, I found it was hard on my family, so I doubt I'll do it again in the near future.

    1. I'm with you on that. I enjoyed the experience, and now that I have my first draft in my hands, I'm thrilled about it. But it's not something I would do often. It wouldn't be fair on my husband or little boy. I may do it again next November, but in the meantime, I'm going to find a way to work around my family for the win-win. :)


Hi! I love reading new comments so thank you for sharing. I'll be sure to get back to you to continue the conversation. :)