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Monday, July 15, 2013


by Kristen Crowley Held

I did it! I finished a rough draft of my story! Okay, I didn’t write the last line until last week, but I wouldn’t have gotten there without my two weeks of fast drafting. 

As you may recall, in the blog post I wrote on Day One of my fast drafting class I said my goal was: 

“to commit to a story and vomit it on the page fast enough that I don’t have time to talk myself out of writing it. It will not be perfect. It may be total crap. I may put it directly in the bottom of a trunk once I reach 280 pages. BUT I WILL WRITE 280 PAGES!!”

Here are my stats:
I had a little bit of trouble with committing to one story (I switched stories on Day 5), but I did manage to write 20 pages every day and had a couple of glorious days where I wrote even more. 

Total number of pages written = 293 (Courier 12pt, for those of you who are curious)

Word count = 61,402

What I’ll do differently next time:
Be a Plotser. It seems I’m neither a Plotter* nor a Pantser**, but somewhere in between. I initially tried to pants a brand new story but on Day 4 I realized I had too many questions and instead of writing scenes I was brainstorming plot. The story wasn’t solid enough in my head to get it down on paper yet. My muse totally balks at plotting out an entire story ahead of time, but I need it to be at least partially defined before I try to capture it on the page. 

Why Fast Drafting worked for me:
As I said, I like challenges! And this class gave me a specific goal with a finite timeframe. 

When I hit the wall with my pantser story, instead of flailing around in despair and deciding that there were fifty million other things I should be doing instead of writing, I had a challenge to focus on. Plus I was getting daily email updates from my classmates and I did NOT want to be the person who either didn’t post their page count or had to admit they’d only written 216 words for the day. Did I mention that Candy is hardcore? When she says you get your words done no matter what, she means it. 

I couldn’t figure out how to make forward progress on my pantser story but I had two or three other ideas that I’d been mulling over before the class started so I decided to write a one paragraph synopsis for each idea and see what happened. When I got to the third story idea, one that’s been in my back pocket for over a year, I wrote the synopsis and just kept writing. And writing. And 213 pages later it was the last day of class.

Admittedly, I was still nowhere near finished with my story. So I kept writing. Not at the same 20 pages a day pace, which I’ve found is nearly impossible to maintain for more than two weeks without a great deal of advance preparation (and possibly a nanny). But without that two week promise I certainly wouldn’t have a big fat stack of manuscript pages sitting on my desk ready for me to revise. 
Revisionland, here I come!

Why I encourage you to try Fast Drafting:
It’s a huge commitment of time and energy but it’s only two weeks! Two weeks to focus in on your story and figure out very quickly what’s working and what isn’t, instead of flailing around for months, maybe even years. 

I will definitely plan on fast drafting again, but for now I've got a novel to revise!

*Plotter: one who carefully plots her book ahead of time 
**Pantser: one who writes by the seat of her pants


  1. I'm amazed this actually works...that it's possible to get a book written in 2 weeks. If I ever write another first draft, I'm totally going to try this!

    1. Hahaha! You kidder, you. I can't wait to read your fast draft first draft!

  2. Such an inspiration, Kristen! Congrats, and thanks for sharing!

    1. You totally helped keep me on task by checking in on my progress! Thanks for cheering me on, Susan!

  3. How inspiring to see that it CAN be done, and by a busy, multi-tasking dynamo no less. Wishing you many quiet hours for revision--can't wait to see it!

    1. Thanks, Julie! It was definitely a challenge, but well worth it!

  4. Yay, Kristen! I'm thrilled that you finished! (And so impressed.)

  5. You rock! I'm so impressed! Also, I feel like we should be having a Fast Drafting Class graduation ceremony for you. Or maybe cake. At the very least, a froufrou coffee drink date?

    1. I'm totally up for a froufrou coffee drink date :).