Monday, November 5, 2012

Can Fast Draft Get Me Over NaNoWriMo's Finish Line?

Look at the images in this collage, an incomplete pastel painting, a half-finished seashell frame, and three brand-spanking-new novels. What do they have in common? Here’s a hint... it has something to do with a lamentable personality trait that far too many of us share.

Give up? I started the pastel painting about a year ago, the shell frame two years ago, and I bought the books to support my VRW and WRW sisters, but have not finished one. To the list I could add my husband’s shirts that need buttons and a crocheted fragment of blanket for my newborn niece who is now two years old.

And most distressing of all, a dozen manuscripts in various stages of completion from 5,000 to 75,000 words.

I begin projects with great enthusiasm, but too often move on to some shiny new thing before I’ve finished. They say the first step is to admit you have a problem. I freely admit it... I am a procrastinator.

On Saturday, I was given a set of tools to help me vanquish the procrastinator within.  At least I devoutly hope so. Virginia Romance Writers (VRW) held its annual meeting, the highlight of which was Candace Havens' Fast Draft workshop. Although Midlothian is a hike, two hours south of my home in Culpeper, I really wanted to attend.

I’m ecstatic that I did! Now the onus is on me to apply "The Rules" to my writing.

Candace's program featured insightful “tough love” for writers delivered with dry wit and physical comedy. At times she was hysterically funny, like when she described some potentially career-damaging misbehavior on the part of an unnamed colleague that involved way too many cocktails and a close encounter with a publishing executive. When telling a story, her face becomes as rubbery as Jim Carrey’s and her physicality rivals Steve Martin's. Truly, the woman could be a professional comedienne. She kept the audience laughing while she imparted excellent advice on writing, revising, and marketing, peppered with cautionary tales plucked from her own career. 

It is too late for me to heed one particular bit of Candace's advice... to present myself as a professional at all times because, "You never know who's listening." I have already blown this one in a rather major way, so I'm not going to worry about it too much at this point. My entire blog revolves around the countless mistakes I've made along my writing journey, punctuated by the occasional success. I have primarily addressed my musings to other newbie writers and my fans, not agents or publishers. I haven't the slightest notion what they would make of it if they did read it.

I do plan to heed the rest of Candace's pointers, however. She gave great tips for staying positive, ignoring your internal editor, making a commitment to the process, and creating accountability. She's a big advocate of journaling and recommends keeping one close at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. There was much, much more, including a detailed list of rules that would take too long to go over here. If you would like to take the class, visit Candace Havens' website. The link is at the end of this post.

The workshop was well timed, from my point of view. I signed up for NaNoWriMo because I have been treading water in my latest WIP for weeks, editing the same words, over and over. I didn’t want to abandon it and move on to another project and end up in the same place a month or two down the line. Instead, I spent too much time on Facebook, napping like a bear, and aimlessly rooting around in the fridge… anything to avoid facing my manuscript. I've spoken about Cameron's story on my fan page and readers keep asking me when it will be done. I'm feeling a great deal of self-imposed pressure to wrap it up. I don't know if I'll try to get an agent with this one, or self publish again. The pros and cons of that question might be adding to my procrastination. If I finish it, I have to decide whether to enter the grueling, frustrating, gut-wrenching query process.

No more procrastination! Fast Draft made sense to me and I’m going to give it an honest shot. I’ve already begun to implement Candace’s rules… beginning with clearing my workspace of clutter to help me focus. My office doubles as my art studio and writing cave, so cleaning and organizing took most of Sunday. But I'm done and she's right... I really do feel less scattered in an uncluttered space.

I'm setting aside the next two weeks to produce an entire rough draft using Fast Draft’s “rules” to write 20 pages a day for 14 days. Candace says commitment and accountability are important, so I’m going to post my word count every day on the VRW critique partners loop, Facebook, and my blog before I go to bed each night.

I can’t do the Fast Draft workshop justice in this short blog post, but believe me, Candace Havens gave great advice, not only on cranking out a rough draft, but surviving the revision phase, and marketing through social media. If you need strategies to power through your first draft, sign up on her website @ The cost is $20, a bargain in my estimation.

I found a testimonial about Fast Draft from writer Angela Quarles, a converted skeptic, @

* * *
Visit Kate's website for the latest information on her books:
You can find her on Facebook at
Send her a tweet @KateWorth2 or email her at

The Promise is available at Amazon at the following links:

* * *
Update on my bad review blog post. I am pleased to report that this business of getting your first bad review is a lot like losing your virginity. It only hurts the first time. Well... it hurts the worst your first time. After that you become philosophical. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, etc, etc, etc.

Here are some samples of my art. The top one is a hand built clay sculpture and the bottom is a pastel painting of Sharp Rock Road in Rapphannock County near Sperryville, one of the prettiest country lanes anywhere. And it leads to Sharp Rock Winery! Worth a visit, y'all.


  1. Thanks for the reminder of Fast Draft, Kate! I'm going to review the rules and see if that can get me started on my latest book. I'd LOVE to have a first draft in 20 days!

    And thanks for the surprise of seeing my A Not So Respectable Gentleman? bookcover on your collage! What a treat!

  2. Good luck, Diane. I know a pro like you can do It!

  3. I found NaNoWriMo was an excellent push for me to get past my procrastination and also my fear of failure. There's something about a too-close-for-comfort deadline that makes you kick down the wall and the feeling is freeing!

    Good luck to you on your Nano!

    1. Jazmyn, I signed up last year and didn't come close to finishing. I'm going to work harder this year. I love the idea of whipping out a truly rough first draft, then fixing it. Candace Havens says it usually results in better flow because you aren't constantly starting and stopping. We'll see!

      Are you doing NaNo this year?