Fast Drafting Fiction (Or Any Other Kind of Writing)

When last I communicated with you, I told how I was taking a hiatus to finish my novel.  As my grandbabies would say, done! (This must be accompanied with both arms raised in the air.)  I finished the first draft on August 31st, and seeing as how my goal was to complete it by the end of August, I was happy.

It took me nearly a year to write it.  I wasn't writing steadily the entire time–I took whole months off here and there while I floundered.  By the standards of the class I'm currently taking, that is an eternity.

I am enrolled in a class called Book in a Month.  The first two weeks you write a draft and the next two weeks you revise.  Candace Havens, who teaches the class, urges her pupils to commit to writing 20 pages a day, gasp.  But, to my great relief, most of us in the class are not doing quite that many pages.  The main rule seems to be that you must write something (and post it on the Yahoo group page) or she may kick you out.  So, since I'm in the midst of getting ready to teach in France, I've committed to 10 pages a day.

This comes at an inconvenient time, I will admit.  I have 50,000 things to do before I leave and all. But I hope plan to be getting in my word count on the plane and the train from Paris to Beziers.  And I really wanted to take the class because I've long suspected I can write faster, and I was curious as to Candace's techniques.  To nobody's surprise, the techniques are simple: write.  

Make a commitment and write.

Ha!  Would that it were that simple.  Oh wait.  It is.

So, I'm a few days in and I'm already learning a lot, mostly that I need to unlearn a lot of stupid rules about writing that I carry around in my head.  Though my rules are likely different than yours,  I thought I would share them with you as instructive examples.  

Stupid Writing Rules

1.  I can't write fast.  Instead, I must sit and stare out the window at my giant Kiwi bush that is slowly taking over my whole backyard and wish that the kiwis would tell me what to write next.  Also, accessing the internet for research periodically is vital.  And, of course, going on Twitter to report my progress (or lack thereof) is also essential.

2. I need lots of uninterrupted time to write. To nail 10 or 20 pages a day, one must have hours of time in which to get words on the page, right? Wrong.  You can do it in small increments and many people do.  Earlier this week I wrote some in the morning, broke to talk to a friend and eat lunch, went back to writing for a bit, went to a Labor Day barbecue, wrote some more, had dinner and watched a little TV and came back to finish my final two pages.  Worked fine.

3. I can't write at night. I am a dedicated morning person, up most days between 5:30 and 6, and it is in these early hours that I like to get my writing in.  I'm at my best in the morning, as long as I have some coffee to write with.  Because of this, I'd started to believe that I couldn't write at night. Wrong!  See #2.

4. I can't write after I've had a glass of wine.  Not true.  The other night I enjoyed Happy Hour with my husband, ate a bite, watched my current favorite TV show, (which is, embarrassingly, Running Wild with Bear Grylls)and then went to my office to get two more pages in.

5. I can't finish one novel and go right to the next. Um, no.  Finished the one I've been laboring over for a year and opened a new file and started the next.

6. I have to have an outline!  I am a confirmed plotter.  Anybody who has worked with me knows that I advocate the benefits of a loose outline, just because it really helps to know where you're going.  But with this novel, I'm running blind.  I had a vague idea as I started and I'm must following where it leads me.  I'm not entirely convinced it will all hand together in the end, but I'm willing to try!  So, for the moment, I've joined the ranks of pantsers.  (Which means, for those who don't know, writers who fly by the seat of their pants with little planning.)

7.  Writing fast produces crap.  This is maybe the biggest surprise.  I'm quite pleased with what's on the page so far. In many ways, I'm coming to believe that writing fast is better for getting your true voice and style on the page.

So that's it, that's what I've learned thus far.  And I really urge you to consider some fast drafting for yourself.  I believe it bypasses the internal critic that slows us down and allows us to get a truer voice on the page.  

What do you think about writing fast? Yes or no?  Have you tried it?

PS.–Guess what?  I can get Typepad on the new Surface tablet I bought to take to France so I'll be blogging from there (she said, hopefully).  Last year I didn't know that I couldn't blog from my Ipad until I got there, sigh.  And by the way, I'm in love with the Surface 2.  It is a tool for work, as opposed to an expensive toy.  Just saying.  For someone who travels as much as I do, it will be a godsend.

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6 Comments on "Fast Drafting Fiction (Or Any Other Kind of Writing)"

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Zan Marie
Guest
09/04/2014 06:01

Write fast? Write after dark? What? There’s a disturbance in the force. 😉
At times I’ve been able to do this, some days are just perfectly aligned. Others, not so much. But if I’m able to write *something* everyday, I’m happy.

Go, Charlotte, Go! Enjoy France!

Suzanne C. Robertson
Guest
Suzanne C. Robertson
09/04/2014 08:17

This is so helpful, Charlotte. You make it sound so matter-of-fact, like of COURSE we can do this, do it differently, wedge it in. Candace’s class sounds great, too.

Have fun in France!! I look forward to reading your Surface-created, internationally sent blog (she says hopefully).

J.D.
Guest
J.D.
09/04/2014 11:53

Yeah, this is good stuff. I’m 2/3 through. Have to find the hidden gear. Have fun in France. Post some photos for your blog fans.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
09/04/2014 13:18

I was just thinking about that earlier, Zan Marie–that if I’m able to write something every day, I’m ridiculously happy. 8-10 pages is a pretty good pace for me, I’m thinking. Thanks for your encouragement!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
09/04/2014 13:19

I’m so excited about France! And, as far as I can tell, all systems should be go for blogging. I really wanted to blog last year so I’ll do my best this time around. And I’m glad you found this helpful.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
09/04/2014 13:19

2/3 through is great! Yay, J.D.! I will do my best to post photos to entice you to come next year.

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