Writing takes time. There’s no way around it – for many authers, their books are one, five, even ten years or more in the making! But often, it can be frustrating and demoralizing to feel as if it might take you that long to even finish a first draft.
Today, we are going to highlight how you can fast-draft your next novel using these tips.
First, what is fast-drafting? It’s pretty intuitive: fast-drafting is the process wherein you finish a draft of a book as quickly as possible. Here are some fast-drafting tips and tricks that might just help you discover a new way to write your novels!
- Write in point form – writing in point form is the number one piece of advice when it comes to fast-drafting; whenever you can’t find the energy, or don’t have the words for a full sentence, jot it down! Write out the events of a scene or even an entire chapter in point form. Getting the skeleton of a section is a great way to ensure you don’t forget any of your ideas, and is more effective at actually getting the writing process started over, say, taking notes.
Point form writing grabs the basic structure of the story from your mind before it can fade. Focus on the main images, pieces of dialogue, and characters in the scene or chapter, and then expand it later. If you can manage some full sentences, go for it! If you can’t, again, focus on getting the broad ideas down and go back in for the details later.
Writing an entire first draft in point form might seem tedious, but you’d be surprised how helpful it is. Having the whole structure of a novel, in more detail than an outline, is a huge first step towards a truly completed draft.
- Practice free-writing – grab a piece of paper, open a new document, and go! Free-writing is a great way to get over any hesitancy you might have about fast-drafting.For those who are new to free-writing or need a refresher, free-writing is an exercise wherein you set a timer (5-10 minutes is a great start) and write whatever comes to mind during that period. You can start with a prompt word, sentence, or concept to help you out, but the point is to write whatever pops into your head for that duration of time, stopping when the timer goes off, even if you are mid-sentence.
This exercise helps you lose some writing inhibitions and pushes that inner editor to the side while allowing you to get your ideas onto the page in a quick and effective manner.
- Turn off your inner editor – this one can be hard, but try your best to ignore your inner editor. Remind yourself that any mistakes can be corrected later, not as you write. Editing as you go will slow you down and have you second-guessing your own burgeoning ideas. Don’t allow yourself to lose your flow by pausing to edit before starting to write again – ignore every typo, every missed word, every half-finished sentence! Again, all of those can be edited later by either yourself or with the help of an editor who will work with you to get your first draft cleaned up.
- Remove distractions – turn off your notifications, shut the door, put in those headphones, and get to writing. Blocking out or removing distractions and really focusing on writing can help you fast-draft. Simply pouring words onto the page is ideal – and you’ll find that it will be easier to enter a writing mindset if you physically shut out any distractions.
If you are someone who works best in a busy environment, however, don’t be afraid to put on that podcast or work in that bustling café. Ultimately, you know your ideal writing environment best. Go with what is most comfortable for you!
- Write in short bursts or “sprints” – after removing distractions, set a timer and write, write, write. It doesn’t matter the quality of the writing; the point is to write as much as possible in that period, without stopping and restarting. Start with 5 to 15 minute bursts, and work your way up to 30 minutes or more! You’ll be surprised how effective this technique is when you can get into the flow of writing. Don’t worry if you find this difficult at first, especially if you’ve never tried it before – as with anything, practice makes perfect!
- Don’t re-read until the drafting is done – again, shut out your inner editor. Revisit your writing after the draft is done. Once you hit your page or word count, stop, no matter where you ended. Then, start from the beginning. Read through what you wrote entirely. After that, it’s time to backfill any areas that were left unfinished or fill in point-form scenes or even entire chapters. You’ll thank yourself later for getting those ideas out rather than letting them sit unfinished, or worse, forgotten!
Fast-drafting is meant to be messy. You won’t make a pretty, error-free first draft from this technique – but you will have a completed draft at the end of it. And a first draft is all you need to truly say you’re one step closer to a published novel.
Don’t worry – fast-drafting might not be for you, especially if you are an author who prefers meticulous planning and preparation before sitting down to write, but we highly recommend trying it out at least once. Fast-draft a chapter, short story, or even novella, and see what happens. You may find that the writing practices you develop via fast-drafting will help you during your regular drafting process!
Trying out new writing techniques can also help you grow as a writer, too. Check out this podcast episode on skeleton drafting with bestselling author Steff Green, and listen to this episode with another fast-drafter, USA Today bestselling author and author of two Kobo Originals, Nana Malone.
And, if you feel stuck or are stagnating in your current project, switching up how you draft might help. From the next feasible point on in your drafting process, start fast-drafting! You can always switch back to your usual drafting method after only a chapter or two. Experimenting with your process can provide inspiration and motivation and encourage you to pick up the metaphorical (or literal) pen again.
Are you a fast-drafter? Share your drafting style with the KWL community below, and as always, happy writing!
Some usable points here, anything to get things moving!
Glad you found these points helpful – best of luck with your writing!