When I mentioned to a writer friend that I wasn’t sure how I’d ever be able to write multiple books in a year, she said I had to learn how to fast draft. It seemed like a good idea. I’d done NaNoWriMo before, so I knew I could handle intense writing with a set deadline. I signed up for a fast-drafting class that involved checking in every day and being chastised by the moderator if you fell behind.
It was horrible. I was in a constant state of panic, writing gibberish just so I could get my pages done and go to bed. I don’t know why I thought fast-drafting would work for me. I prefer endurance sports to sprints, I like baking better than stir frying, and I don’t pull all-nighters to get things done. For NaNoWriMo, my word counts were up and down, with some days high, and some low, but I kept myself on track my way and finished well before the deadline.
Fast-drafting reminded me of two bosses I had who couldn’t work until the deadline was on top of us. I suspect it was because it gave them an excuse: “We did this in three days, so considering the circumstances, it’s pretty good.” Ugh.
At the end of two weeks of fast drafting I had 30,000 words but I couldn’t even call it a bad first draft. Reading it over, I could feel the frustration and misery in every word.
I extracted notes about characters and plot points that I thought might be usable, put the rest aside and poured a tub. After a long soak I had an outline. That outline is now blossoming into a novel at a reasonable pace with weekly goals.
While I agree that you need to set and respect word count goals, you also need to be in your zone to produce your best work. If your zone is a state of panic with daily deadlines, then fast-draft away. But if you’re like me and you need to be relaxed for the words to flow, then adding stress and pressure will not help you reach your word count.
Writing faster is about being efficient, knowing yourself and respecting your process. The fast-draft method works for many people and is definitely worth trying, but it wasn’t for me. My advice is to try it but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t wind up with a book at the end. Find your own path to productivity.
Has anyone else tried fast-drafting? Did it work for you?
Karen Avivi is never bored. If the weather is nice, it’s almost impossible for her to stay inside. Karen has tried surfing, skydiving, scuba diving, stunt classes, archery, winter camping, orienteering, mountaineering, mountain biking, and she even attempted a bike ramp once but it didn’t end well. If she’s not reading or writing, she’s usually planning a new adventure. Learn more on her website, visit her on Facebook, or Goodreads.
Karen’s contemporary YA novel Shredded is now available as an ebook and in print. Drop into the world of girls’ freestyle BMX for an action-packed summer road trip adventure.
“I would have preferred handlebars in the gut. At least when that happened I definitely saw it coming.”
Josie Peters thinks she’ll do anything to qualify for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event the summer before her senior year. She can handle road trips and rail grinds, but when flashy rider R.T. Torres tempts her with an easy way in, his overpowering world threatens to send Josie spinning out of control.