The Art of Fast-Drafting Your Novel

The Art of Fast-Drafting Your Novel

Writers tend to fall into two camps regarding how much time it takes to finish drafting a book. There are those who can take upwards of 10 years to write their manuscripts. Then, there are those who fast-draft their manuscripts in as little as 14 days. While no clear-cut rules exist for fast-drafting a manuscript, writers who use the technique know what it takes to get as many words on paper in as little time as possible. What is the secret sauce to churning out a fast-drafted manuscript in less than one month? Aside from proactive preparation and a well-planned writing schedule, I have 10 tips for successfully fast-drafting your next book.

1. Brainstorm every aspect of your story.

Before you can begin fast-drafting your book, spend a substantial amount of time brainstorming. Use your writer’s notebook to keep track of your thoughts and inspiration. Spend time researching the information you need to get your story off the ground. For instance, if you’re writing historical fiction, look up and document any necessary information you need to ensure your first draft portrays historically accurate information, so you have less to clean up later.

2. Know it well.

Create a well-detailed outline, make scene index cards, fill out character development sheets and thoroughly understand the direction of your book before you start writing.

3. Define your goal.

Whether you want to write your book in four months, 30 days, or two weeks, set your exact writing goal and do the math to see how much writing you need to accomplish each day to reach your goal.

4. Set expectations.

Understand that a fast-drafted manuscript is not a finished manuscript—it is merely the skeleton of your finished book on paper. Your manuscript will continue to improve through each round of rewrites, revisions, beta reading, and editing you put it through.

5. Small increments, multiple times a day.

We are all pumped to start new creative projects, but to avoid crashing and burning (quitting before you finish) build in smaller chunks of writing time into your schedule multiple times a day.

6. No self-editing.

The biggest time suck of writing a draft is self-doubt and self-editing. Refuse your inner editor and do not edit a single word until you finish drafting your book.

7. Make a list of additional research.

Along your drafting journey, you will stumble across pieces you may need to research further. Keep a list of these items and the page number they appear on so you can do the research after you finish fast-drafting your novel. Don’t stop writing to take a trip down a research rabbit hole.

8. Writing sprints are your friend.

The best way to write in small increments, multiple times a day, is to make use of writing sprints. Set a timer and focus your attention on increasing your word count.

9. Find a community.

Fast-drafting writers often aim to produce 1,000 words in an hour. To do so, they sometimes need to find an extra boost of support. Connect with other writers by using #1K1Hr on Twitter to show and receive support from others who are also pushing to get 1,000 words on paper in 60 minutes.

10. Stay accountable.

Do whatever you need to do to stay accountable to yourself and your fast-drafting goals. Try setting reminders on your phone when it’s time to sit down and write or asking a close friend or family member to text you each day to see how much you’ve increased your word count from the previous check-in.

What’s the shortest amount of time you’ve taken to draft a manuscript? If you’re currently drafting, tell us in the comments. We love cheering on writers to the finish line!

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