Five Lessons Learned From #FastDraft


Finally getting around to finishing this post. I hope you all enjoy. -D

Introduction to Fast Draft

(Please note: I am NOT affiliated with Candy; I just recommend shit I like.)

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Fast Draft is a course taught by the wonderful Candace Havens. She actually has two courses total – Fast Draft (which includes Revision Hell) for $20, and her Comprehensive Course (which includes Fast Draft, Revision Hell, and so much more) for $100. The next Fast Draft course is in October of 2012, while the next Comprehensive Course isn’t until January of 2013. I highly recommend both, having been involved in the Comprehensive Course now for over a month.

Lessons Learned for Fast Draft

Let’s just dive on in here, okay?

5) The Community Falls Apart as soon as Words go on the Page

When the Comprehensive Course started out, there was a lot of community building. So much so, that I felt like I found another ROW80-like home. But once people started having to write their page counts a day, all communication reverted to goals and congratulations. I feel like the only other communication is related to questions for Candy.

I stopped posting my page count after a few days… no one noticed. I stopped congratulating people. No one noticed. I’ve just been lurking in class, absorbing everything.


4) Being Held Accountable with No Excuses for Failure isn’t a Method I Respond Well to

Candy is really adamant that you post your daily goals and the actual pages you made. This has really motivated some people, because they feel like the community that was built pre-Fast Draft is really hooting for them.

There are no excuses and no whining in Fast Draft. Candy reminds us of this constantly. She says it will bring down those who are motivated and hitting their page counts.

Her constant reminder actually brought me down. This was part of the reason I stopped posting my page count. Because I felt pressured, but in a bad way. If I didn’t make my page count goal, what was the point? No one was scolding me for not posting, and no one was giving any feedback besides either a) don’t whine or b) congratulations.

I stopped caring.

3) Plotting with a Plan Saves so Much Time

I don’t just mean plotting out your story. I mean plotting your story to fit your writing goals.

The above image is a photo I took of my plot layout for Sigyn’s Cage. This is all printed on recycled colored paper and pasted into a manila folder. I liked the idea of this being as portable as possible. It’s worked wonders. (If you want your own version of this, here are the files I used. They aren’t pretty – I’ll do that later – but I thought I’d share. Plot Blocks and GMC.)

At the top, I have Goal, Motivation, Conflict (GMC) boxes for my heroine and villain. When I re-do this (to fit the changes I made during Fast Draft/Revision Hell) I’ll have to make one for my hero as well.

At the bottom, I have 28 blocks, separated out over the two sides (I didn’t feel like reading over the crease in the folder). Each block has a line-for-scene. I did 28, specifically, because I was sure I could write a 10-page scene for each line-for-scene, thus guaranteeing my Fast Draft page count.

Boy, was I wrong.

The base idea was great, but it failed ever so slightly. I could only get about five pages out of most of my scenes, meaning that I was either struggling to write fluff (so that I didn’t have to progress the novel) or that I was moving onto my next line-for-scene and throwing off my plans.

When I re-do this, I will be adding another 14 blocks for a total of 42.

2) Fear (and the Inner Editor) Take Many Forms; the Only Way to Banish them is to Just Keep Typing

This is kind of the whole point to Fast Draft. It’s something that I couldn’t have learned without the community. I tried to do a little Fast Draft a week before everyone else. I got really frustrated when I couldn’t do more than five pages, no matter how hard I tried. I posted the question to the community (remember, this was pre-official Fast Draft) and got some great responses. Some of them had done Fast Draft before, while others were suffering right there with me.

Fear (and the Inner Editor) can be sneaky. Sometimes they are a voice telling you any number of negative things. Sometimes they are exhaustion that seems to set in as soon as you sit down to write. The biggest one I faced, again and again, was absentmindedness. I would conveniently forget that I was supposed to be Fast Drafting, instead of being distracted by new blog posts and tweets.

The only way to get rid of Fear (and the Inner Editor) is to just keep typing. It’s like walking through a wall made of jello. There’s a lot of resistance (so much, in fact, that you are ready to quit at a moment’s notice) and then… it’s gone. It’s gone and you feel the most wonderful, freeing thing in the world. You can Fast Draft.

1) I need at Least 20 Minutes to Write (and with 20 Minutes, I can Fast Draft up to 2k Words and Hour)

People say that if you have five minutes, you can do anything.

Not me.

I found that my Inner Editor gets worse if I have too little or too much time to write. My sweet spot (found while Fast Drafting) is between 20 and 40 minutes. Shorter than that and I get all sorts of negative “this just isn’t worth it” thoughts, while longer means I try to evaluate what I’m writing.

Participating in the ROW80 Teamsprinty sprints (shout out of love!) every day helped me so much here.

One day I realized that I was writing over 1,000 words during the half an hour sprint. I’d be hitting around 200-600 before. On that day, I realized that Fast Draft was the absolute greatest writing course I’d taken (and I’ve taken quite a few).

Ultimately, This is What I got from Fast Draft

5) I don’t need a community to write, even though it’s nice to have.

4) Praise or scolding doesn’t work for me.

3) I love my new plotting system.

2) My Fast Draft Jedi skills trump my Inner Editor’s Sith powers.

1) My Writing F-ing ZOOMS now.


I mentioned on Wednesday that my boss had passed away. Wednesday night, I made this in his memory.

He was Hawaiian by birth, hence the Yellow Hibiscus (Pua Aloalo). No brushes were used in the making of this painting; every stitch of paint on that canvas was applied with my hands. He touched so many lives over the years, molding and shaping good people into better people. It would only be fitting that my painting would reflect that.

I’m not a good painter, so please save your flattery. Instead, remember that we can be taken from this world at any time. Go out and live your life the way you want it to be – not the way someone else tells you.


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