Friday, September 22, 2006

Twelve Steps to Writing, Fast-Draft Style

Ever hear of NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month. Yep, there is such a thing, and it's held every November. The point? To write a novel (or 50,000 words) in thirty days. Why on Earth would anyone want to attempt such madness? To light a fire under those of us who love to write fiction.

"Sounds impossible," you say. "No one can write that fast." For sure, when I first heard about NaNo last year I was one of the naysayers. After all, my own first book, Visions, took eighteen months to complete; the second, Twelve Steps to Murder, was only 2/3 complete after four months.

Well, HA! Not only are people finding this doable, I'll go you one better. Enter Candace Havens' Fast Draft Workshop. The author of several books including Charmed and Dangerous, Candace has devised a class that not only matches NaNoWriMo's goal--it attempts to exceed it by more than HALF. That's right--her course teaches participants to pound out a 70,000-word first draft in TWO WEEKS.

I stumbled across this course by accident and was intrigued. With revisions for Visions still due back from the publisher, I'd already decided to resume work on other projects while waiting. Perhaps, I thought, this workshop could help. If nothing else, it probably wouldn't hurt. With as many story ideas as my brain likes to conjure up, my snail's pace execution definitely needed a boost.

As it turns out, Fast Draft might just be the jet pack my writing needed. After signing up and learning the method, I set to work and managed to accumulate 74 pages on Twelve Steps to Murder with three days of writing effort--hopefully eighty by the end of tonight. That brings my MS within close sight of its major climax and ending sequences.

Not that the process is all sunshine and lollipops. Two things are evident with speed writing. First, even more fleshing out will be required in revision than my former (also known as neanderthal) method entails, which is already a substantial amount. Second, it's darn hard to pound out twenty pages every day, even if you're committed to succeeding. Still, pound out pages I have, and my hats off to folks like Ms. Havens who have used this method to produce numerous published works.

For anyone wondering, Ms. Havens also has a follow up course titled: Revision Hell and How To Get Through It. I suspect this will be the perfect companion piece to the rapid-fire writing extravaganza currently underway. If nothing else, this adventure will help greatly with my upcoming NaNoWriMo project, a chick-lit titled A Grand Seduction that is outlined and ready to rocket out of the gate come November 1.

For more information on NaNoWriMo, visit If you'd like to know more about the Fast Draft workshop, visit Candace's site at and click the "Workshops" button.

Happy writing!