May I Introduce You to Fast-Drafting?


The idea behind “fast-drafting” is to prepare yourself ahead of time so that when you get to the point when you are ready to write your first draft, you can just buckle down and fly through it. You don’t work backwards, revise, edit, or get distracted. You don’t even worry all that much about quality. It is a concept that I had filed somewhere in my brain because of Nanowrimo, that month every year (November) when writers put 50,000 words toward a novel on the page and track their progress and encourage one another and whatnot. I already understood that if I spent October (Preptober) getting all my story ducks in a row, I could manage 1600 words per day in November. So while the concept—even the practice (I won Nano this year)—wasn’t foreign to me, I hadn’t exactly thought of applying it in a broader way to the writing life.

Then I got perhaps half-way through my current writing project and thought, I think I’m missing something. There has to be a quicker way to do this when I’m not in Nanowrimo or at a residency. I mean, life just has a way of getting in the way of vague goals. I did some poking around. I wound up in a Fast-Drafting online class (which I will talk about in a few posts from now) and spent Monday and Tuesday of this week in build-up activities, largely rearranging my schedule and my, erm, attitude. Today, I began.

According to math and to an online tracker I am using, I have to write around 1800 words each day every weekday and I will be done around March 10 with the first draft of The Edge. (I already wrote half of this rather long book. It’s impossible to give it an exact date because I can only guess how long my first draft manuscript will be. But I can make an educated guess, which I put at 110,000.) I am pumped. I really do have to put out a lot of actual work in in the next few months, so fast drafting is part of what I am doing to make sure that happens. The key here is discipline, and, so I am told, routine. Since I don’t exactly thrive with too much routine, I have varied my Tuesdays and Thursdays a little bit to include a workshare, a hike, and a trip to a coffee shop.

You are welcome to nag me about how I am doing. I have reached out for some accountability and, well, my husband always has one eye on me and that’s helpful. But I do think I can sustain this whole thing. I did Nano, after all, and with my daughter receiving college acceptances in the mail I have a new fire lit under my butt. You are also welcome to join me. Give yourself a few days to figure this thing out (and if you haven’t already “planned” your novel to some extent, you’ll need a few more weeks to do that, too), then grab the schedule I have graciously included below and jump in with both feet. With me. One. Two. Three…

My Daily Work Schedule for Fast-Drafting, Now Until March 10

(Inspired and in some places dictated by Jessica Brody’s Fast-Drafting Class on Writing Mastery Academy)

  • Feed and take out the pup
  • Breakfast, tea, meds
  • Dishes and news while kids get out the door
  • Journal
  • Meditation/reflection/a spiritual moment
  • MON, WED, FRI: Yoga; TUES: order lunch and go to workshare; THURS: hike and go to café
  • Remove distractions from workspace/tidy up and include tissues, chapstick, and water
  • Turn tech to Do Not Disturb
  • Close all documents except manuscript, Invisible Revision Checklist, and timer app
  • Create a new, blank file (I do this in my Scrivener document and put the date on it)
  • Read yesterday’s notes to self
  • Start the timer for two hours
  • Write like the wind for two hours
  • Record my word count and marvel at my progress
  • Write notes to myself about what I will write tomorrow
  • Move any existential, story crises to my journal to ponder later
  • Organize my Invisible Revision Checklist
  • Gloat (or grovel) at my accountability partner
  • MON, WED, FRI: Lunch
  • MON, WED, FRI: Walk the pup/get the mail
  • MON: blog and email; TUES: work to-dos and go home; WED: submissions and applications; THURS: work to-dos and go home; FRI: blog and manage social media
  • Do 1-2 chapters of further writing education


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