Friday, July 23, 2010

My Fast Draft Journey

For the last week, I have been employing a method taught by author Candace Havens called Fast Draft. If you follow my Facebook, then chances are you have seen my daily updates. I have done this to keep myself accountable for the current work in progress. Without going into detail on the book itself, I will tell you that Fast Drafting is a method that lets you get the story you want to tell down on paper.

It is not about choosing the best words or honing the prose. It's about churning out the story and getting out of your own way by meeting a page count goal, day in and day out. The page count, in this case, is 20 pages per day, on average, about 7,000 to 8,000 word per day. 20 pages a day seems like a big number and I've had more than a few people say "I can't do that." Honestly, I was one of those naysayers too. Because 20 pages seems like such a huge number.

But last weekend, I sat down with the goal of sprinting for all I was worth for 20 minutes, then breaking, then returning to the writing sprint for 20 minutes. On average, six to seven sprints is all I need to make it to 20 pages. Some days that's definitely easier than others, if I can start sprinting early, I can get in those six to seven sprints in and around my other work. If it's later in the day, I write slower, because I am tired.


The biggest asset to this process is the storyboard. Two weeks ago, I spent a wonderful day with two other authors and we plotted out our upcoming works in progress. This storyboard helped me chart the course the story was going to follow. I know every destination I have to reach and most of the high points. While there have been some organic changes along the way, a glance at the plot helps keep me on track.

After seven continuous days of Fast Drafting, I am at roughly page 130. I have about four chapters left to go and I hit a bit of a plot hole in today's writing when I realized one of my turning points had already been revealed (oops).

Breaking Out the Storyboard

I went back to the storyboard – as it were – and re-examined where I had been and where I was going with the information that I had. As a writer, we write all the time. Even when we are plotting, we are writing, creating, working and thinking. I've dreamt this story every night this week. I have been so invested in getting down on paper, I have gotten out the way of my creative process and just let the story flow.

So today, it was only 10 pages instead of the 20. I can accept that. Because I ran into what could have conceivably stalled me out for days before and resolved it in just a couple of hours of juggling with the storyboard.

Four Chapters from the End

The first draft completes in just four chapters – two to two and a half more days of great sprinting. So hats off to Candace Havens and her Fast Draft method. Check out Candy's website for more information about this fabulous writer, her books and her workshops including the Fast Draft method.


  1. Sounds like a very cool process. Are you finding it easier to fix any plot holes and to weave in more story with this method?

    Heading over to read more on Candace's site now...

  2. I really find that it keeps me from getting in my own way. I don't overthink it. I can still let the story flow, but I have a direction to travel in so it doesn't ramble needlessly. It's pretty sweet.

  3. I'll definitely have to check out Candace's site. Congrats on being so productive. How did you manage to turn off the internal editor to do it?

  4. It's hard at first -- but after day 3, it's like going to the gym, you are doing your best and your form may not be perfect, but you are seeing results which gives you that push forward. I've also found that aside from typos, the writing is tighter, because I don't have time to deviate from the course. It's pretty exciting overall. I'll be fast drafting again in a couple of weeks.