Let’s talk about Fast Draft!

26 Sep

So, you decided (or you’re thinking about) starting Fast Draft with us tomorrow (@briaquinlan / #FD10) – Yay! This is great.

If you’re in, you’ve signed up for Candace’s Yahoo group, read the directions link from the last FD post here, started following her on twitter (@candacehavens) and are getting ready to go tomorrow! But you may kind of be wondering a couple things.


The first time I FD’d I had 2 jobs. 1 was a 50-60 hour a week thing and the other included driving a lot and working another 20 hours. I also volunteered, was part of 3 different groups that met weekly and was mentoring several teen girls. Please don’t look at me and say “Well, you’re single and not working right now, so it’s fine for you.”  You can make it work. Here are some things I did:

  • Carried a notebook everywhere: meetings, in the car, the bathroom, EVERY.WHERE.
  • Wrote in meetings – yup, I did. There’s often time when you’re sitting in a meeting and zone out for just a few seconds. Where’s your mind going to go? Right to what you’re working on. Be ready.
  • Cancel all your social lunches, you can have them next week. If you could squeeze 1000 words in in 20 mins (which is doable once you get good at turning off that internal editor) that’s 4 pages. You’re 1/5th of the way done for the day
  • Write at stoplights – I think when I’m driving. Turn the radio off, turn off the phone and think as you commute. Every time you get to a stoplight, right as much as you can. I once hand wrote 2 pages waiting to get thru a busy intersection – that’s 1/10th of your day
  • Lines. Mom’s this one is definitely for you – If you haven’t done the pre-FD grocery shopping (or your family can’t make it for 2 weeks), bring your notebook – I know a bunch of moms that say they love grocery shopping because they’re kidless for it. Now, pick the longest line and pull out that notebook while you wait
  • Don’t think you need big chunks of time – grab it WHEREVER you can


  • Warn family and friends – make promises for 3 weeks from now to keep them quiet
  • Make my tracking graph for recording and making it visual
  • Do the laundry so I’m not needing to worry about that
  • Grocery shopping so there’s food in the house
  • Write my first page so I don’t have to tackle the new Word document
  • Return emails and phone calls that can’t wait 2 weeks (I’ve had a crazy month – I’m going to owe people anyway)
  • Write to music? Have your playlist created
  • Do you do quick notes: Have them ready to go
  • What can’t wait two weeks? Can you do it today? If not, can it wait until AT LEAST after day 4?


  • The first 3 days are killer – you’re going to feel upset that it’s SO FREAKING HARD … and then, it gets easier.
  • The last 2 days are the same way, you’re going to be reallllllly tired
  • The internal editor doesn’t have a switch – I have to work to turn her off
  • I don’t watch TV/movies or read – I want my story the only one floating around in my head
  • If I mess up a day, it’s not the end of the world – I can fix it
  • If I have a great day with lots of extra pages, that gets put in the past – that does not give me “permission” to not write the next day – I may need those pages later
  • It’s going to be a mess. A. Mess. Actually, it’s going to be a REALLY BIG MESS. Don’t worry – it should be. I don’t even consider FD a “first draft” – I always call it my Fast Draft. Do not let yourself feel bad about what your FD looks like.

And, just to show you, I grabbed a random page – Actually, I grabbed a couple and then picked one with several things going on. No laughing! This is Fast Draft:

Instead, I folded it up and put it in my SOMETHING tote, and gave him a nod.

Of course I’d back him up.

The minute hand TICKED by as if it were on DEPRESENTS until the bell finally rang. The class all jumped in their seats, but then no one really went anywhere. I’d never seen people pack their stuff up so slowly.

They made that minute hand look SPEEDY.

When everyone had given up and taken off, Chris headed to the front of the room. Mr. HISTORY had seated himself behind his desk, straightening the few things there and looking as AUTHORITIATIVE as possible.

“Mr. Kent,” he began before he noticed me come to stand beside Chris. “Miss Wilson, I’m afraid I’ll have to answer any questions you ahv elater.”

He continued ignoring Chris and putting together the class assignments in little binder clips. I had a moment’s envy when I saw his clips were color coded.

“How’d you do?” I whispered as I came up behind Chris SHE’S ALREADY THERE.

He slipped the paper out of his book and handed it too me, looking pleased and miserable all at the same time.


As you can see, I use a lot of different things when FDing

  • If I can’t think of a word, I put SOMETHING
  • If I’m not sure that I’m using the right word, I capitalize it
  • If I have a general idea but don’t know exactly what I want I capitalize it
  • I created a shortcut to cross things off – you wrote it, you earned it – don’t forget, no deleting
  • I make notes to  myself about things that came before – remember, don’t go back
  • I make notes to myself about things I’m unsure of, remember, not editing
  • One thing you can’t see here is I’ll OFTEN SWITCH TO CAPS IF I’M NOT SURE I’M GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND START BRAINSTORMING WHAT I’M THINKING/WRITING AND THEN suddenly it’s not caps anymore because I figure it out and switch back over to writing.
  • Also, I can’t spell

So, that’s how I work it. Are you feeling Fast Draft Power yet?

If you’re jumping in tell us: Is this your first FD? What are you writing? What are you most worried about? Least worried about? Exciting about?

Can’t wait for tomorrow!

5 Responses to “Let’s talk about Fast Draft!”

  1. Laura K Curtis September 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I want to do this, but I haven’t received an “acceptance” to the yahoo group, so I can’t read the posts. *whine*

  2. briaq September 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    she’s traveling – you could tweet her to make sure she got it?

  3. Rachel Firasek September 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Can’t wait!!!

  4. Laura K Curtis September 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    She didn’t…somehow, Yahoo Groups lost it! But now I am in. It’s going to be absolutely hell, I can tell!

  5. briaq September 26, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME — Okay, like I said, the first three days stink — but then IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME

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