Fast Draft: Boot Camp for Your Lazy-Ass Writing Self

When you have a really hard job to do, one you know will be rewarding, but that you have to plan, initiate, and execute all by yourself–what do you do?

UnknownYou watch TV, of course! That’s what led me to try Candace Haven’s Fast Draft. She came to Virginia Romance Writers and opened up all our eyes real wide.  First of all, she brought her dog.  An adorable pooch, as cute as buttons, but still…it’s a library.  Obviously the old rules don’t apply to Candace.

Then she kicked our asses around the room all day long.  Me–I was loving it.  That internal critic — which Candy calls “The Big B” you put her in her place.

Then you get your synopses together, clean your desk, tell your family to back off for just two weeks, and then you git it done.  No excuses.  That novel will roll out, page after page, day after day, or Candy will know the reason why.  Want to slack? She said, and I quote, to go “look at her big ugly face on Facebook” and imagine her chewing you out.  Then get back to work. Yes ma’am!

One of Candace's books
One of Candace’s books

Woo-hoo! What a motivational speaker! I was so amped up and also deeply, almost feverishly excited.  Why? Well, I’m not an even kind of gal.  I’m decidedly uneven.  It makes me interesting.  It makes me get stuff done in a big lump of work and then sit back and be good for nothing for a bit.  Candy’s methods actually showed me that this is a fabulous way to work — if you just go with it.

So now I am.  I’ve done her course, oh, three times.  Here’s my progress so far.

Fast Draft #1 — got that incredible stomach flu noro-virus thing.  I wasn’t throwing up as long as I didn’t eat–and I didn’t want to eat. Didn’t eat food for almost a week and even so was still feeling sweaty, feverish, light headed, etc.  So lay in bed with covers over my head until I recovered.  Then I just pooped out for the rest of it.  Blerg.

Fast Draft #2 — this was actually a Fast Edits course.  It was brilliant.  There’s a message board for the course and what happened was this: Candy says to prepare a few days ahead.  Not only with figuring out how your family will survive without you for 14 days (it’s called pizza) but she says go clean your desk.  Get a clear space going on.

Candace has a story in this anthology.
Candace has a story in this anthology.

Can you believe it took me about four or more days just to clean my stupid desk?  Yet as I slowly dug away at it, I felt better and better and better.  Stuff had really built up over the last few months.  Not only that, but distractions had built up in my mind as well. No wonder I wasn’t getting my latest project done.  I didn’t have any room for it on my desk–or in my head either.  So I dispatched a lot of stuff and found closure for almost everything else. Feeling about 50 pounds lighter, I was ready for the next step.

Then I had a look at the files I’d created leading up to tackling my project.  Whoo-boy, where they a mess! Someone on Candy’s Fast Edits boards recommended trying Scrivener, and another person said it was on sale that week at Amazon.  It changed my life.  Not the program–but the way the program provides a method of organizing files.  And that took — I kid you not–almost all the rest of the Fast Edits time.  Turns out that I actually had worked on the project — a lot.  I had half a rough draft manuscript by the time I got it all organized.

Moving on — Fast Draft #3 rolled around again.  I started my project.  I whiffled along.  61k written.  Every morning I’d get up, look at the messages the night owls had left, take inspiration from them, resolve to live up to their efforts and get gone for the day.

Her latest book.
Her latest book.

Fast Draft #4.  I had another project suddenly come up.  I have to admit it, I had a very hard time getting settled into that one–I had a lot of transitions going on.  Trips I had to take, a lot of family stuff and other distractions. But I swear, I kept checking those message boards, and then would turn around and crank.  Finally my novella was complete at 40k (146 pages).  Woot!  It’s the fastest amount of time that I’ve completed a first draft in.  An agent wanted it a week ago already–that kind of thing, but I was so glad to write something and turn it in over in less than three months.

Now I’m going to start Fast Draft #5.  It starts July 25th.  And I’m getting the hang of this, people.  Finally.  It doesn’t start for 10 days, but the desk is already clean. Today I organized my files and started preparing my synopsis.  I also shuffled my snippets where they need to be in the chapters. It’s possible that this time, I’ll actually start writing my manuscript when everyone else does.

The biggest shout out I can give to Candy is that I’m finally getting the feel of what it’s like to be a professional writer. How you make yourself keep your butt in your chair just another hour — and then just another hour. How you get that itch to get things done.  How you’re productive and finish a project in a timely fashion and then look for the next one, feeling motivated and like you can really do this.

It feels good.  I am becoming a lean, mean, writing machine.

Thank you Candy!

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