The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty-Three

novel shortcutsWelcome to day twenty-three of The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway! Today’s book is Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques that Ensure a Great First Draft by Laura Whitcomb.

Novel Shortcuts gives you a unique take on “speed depth in fiction writing,” showing you how to write a fast first draft that’s also rich and engrossing (it’s really possible!). With examples from published works and detailed instruction, this helpful guide addresses everything from premise development to scene building to tone and much, much more.

Author Bio:

Laura Whitcomb is the co-author of Your First Novel (September 2006, Writer’s Digest Books)laura whitcomb and two YA novels: The Fetch and the award-winning A Certain Slant of Light (September 2005, Houghton Mifflin). The movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers. She lives in West Linn, Oregon.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

Let’s talk about the first draft. Are you able to include a lot of speed and depth in your writing in the first draft? Or are you more slow and methodical when you write? Do you know any tricks for getting the censor out of the way so you can let the first draft rip? Do tell!

Give me the goods in 50-200 words, please. :)

Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. :)

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45 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty-Three”


  1. 1 Holly Rutchik September 23, 2009 at 12:42 am

    I can do it – I can write fast. My biggest problems tend to come when I stop to long to think things out and organize my thoughts. In the end, my writing seems more organized when I base it on my gut feeling and not when I try to remember and “follow” all the rules. I find this to be good for the first step in writing – but now struggle with what to do when the first draft is done. While revising I get new ideas and go in too many directions. And now I am even more confused:) I think I do need this book!!

  2. 2 Karrie Z Myton September 23, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Last year I wrote in NaNoWriMo. I’m afraid to really go back and look at what came out of that. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the process and the camaraderie of working together with others to create something. But it was ugly and I know it.

    Now I’m working through character sketches and plot lines, trying to make my story something even close to what I’d imagined when I began. The idea of quickly going through this process with a product I wouldn’t be scared to read has me intrigued.

  3. 3 K9friend1 September 23, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Slow, deliberate, and methodical, pretty much defines me. I need some sort of outline and at least a clue how the story will end before I start writing.

    I’m trying very hard not to go back and edit before finishing a piece because that’s where I turn “slow” into “stalled”.

    It’s true that editing kills creativity. I certainly could use some tactics that help me learn to forge on to the finish first!

  4. 4 Laural September 23, 2009 at 5:56 am

    I think deadlines and an editor-set word count helped me learn to write fast with depth. I started writing for a regional monthly, then set the goal of writing for them every single month for a calendar year. That forced me to use my time. I challenged myself to get faster, so as to raise my money per hour rate (they paid the same rate all year, but by working faster, I made more money per hour).

    I don’t know that I have tricks beyond no time for writer’s block and writing frequently. I do know it gets easier and faster. At least, that was my experience.

  5. 5 Lara September 23, 2009 at 6:34 am

    So far I’ve only written one novel and in order to get the first draft done I participated in NaNoWriMo. It worked! Having a deadline and a short time frame helped me to just get down to the work of getting words on the page. However, I went into it with only some sketchy plot outlines and rough ideas of my characters. I think the next novel I’d like to approach with a little more prior planning in order to have a first draft with more depth. Sounds like Whitcomb’s book would be a great resource for that!

    For other types of writing, I still hit the first draft with some general ideas, maybe an outline, but mostly with abandon. I try to do my drafts during my early morning writing session when my brain is still wrapped in a post dream-state fog. Then I hack away making revisions in the afternoon when I’m fully engaged, mentally speaking.

  6. 6 Liz September 23, 2009 at 6:47 am

    This sounds like a great book and one that would be helpful for me. So far when it comes to fiction I think my first drafts are definitely slow and meandering. The only help I’ve found for this so far is flash fiction because with flash, you just don’t have the time (or the word count) that allows me to be slow and meandering.

  7. 7 Donna September 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Two techniques that help me from self-censoring as I write are (1) total solitude and (2) listening to music. Raising my two grandchildren doesn’t permit much time for total solitude—unless they are asleep or in school—but when it’s quiet, I usually produce my best work. On the other hand, listening to music often puts me in the right frame of mind because it blocks out distractions, including my internal editor.

    Probably the most useful method I’ve found to write with speed and depth is setting a specific, measurable goal which includes a deadline. Working under deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, and knowing that I have to produce a specific amount of words or pages in a certain amount of time satisfies my left-brain organized side, while giving my right-brain creative side freedom to write without being censored.

    Donna V.

  8. 8 Meryl Evans September 23, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I go for speed on the first draft so I can get the “shitty first draft” out of the way as Anne Lamott says in BIRD BY BIRD. I let it rest. Play with it some more — this time paying attention to details. Rest again. Final draft… at least, I hope.

  9. 9 Brandy September 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

    I tend to be more slow and methodical on my first draft. I would love to get to the point where I can just let it “rip”. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I tend to be a perfectionist, and it is very difficult to move ahead when I think something might be wrong. Even if I try to ignore it and tell myself I will fix it later it is always there in the back of mind.

  10. 10 Michelle Mach September 23, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I tend to speed through the first draft and add depth during the revision process. It’s easier to breeze past the censor once I’ve started writing, but sometimes it take quite a bit to get me started. Deadlines help, but sometimes I resort to bribery. I’ll tell myself I can read a chapter of a book, take a walk, or have a cup of coffee after I’ve finished. No censor can get between me and my coffee!

  11. 11 Cara Holman September 23, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Writer’s block. Who hasn’t stumbled from it? But thanks to a unique writing group I joined almost three years ago, it is almost a thing of the past for me. In this writing group, based on the Amherst Writers and Artists Methodology, we receive a prompt in the form of an object, a guided imagery, a photo, or a poem, and then… we free write!

    It may sound high stress, but it’s really not, at least not after the first few times. Week after week, we are reminded to leave the internal censor outside the door, and it really works. With a time limit, and knowing that we will be sharing our pieces immediately after our writing time is up, there is added incentive to just go with our first thought, and not worry too much about: Is it good enough? Will others like it? Does it really express what I want to say? Is that the right word?

    Now when I’m at home sitting in front of my computer, or with a pen poised expectantly above my notebook to capture that all-important first draft, I just imagine myself back in writing group, and the words immediately start to flow.

  12. 12 Margay September 23, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I think, no matter what draft you’re on, the censor is still there, lurking in the background, ever ready to say, “This is crap, do it over.” So, I am always looking for advice on how to stifle the censor while writing the first draft. Since my outlines are pretty detailed, the first drafts go a little faster – but not much. I’m always looking for ways to speed up/improve the process, so this looks like the book for me!

    Margay

  13. 13 Jessica Varin September 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I have written quick, jolting, clever poetry during 20 minute bus rides. Conversely, I spent months on the first draft of a poem about school violence.

    The tone, style, and subject of the writing seems to dictate the pace of a first draft. In general, I am fairly slow but occasionally I let it rip if I’m on a roll with word play.

    Reading good writing tends to put me in a place where I’m ready to work with intensity. This could mean in-depth editing or a fast first draft.

  14. 14 Lori Russell September 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Over the years, I have become better at just puting down whatever comes to mind in a first draft whether that is plot, scene/character details or dialogue. I write fast and just let it fly, knowing that I’ll have a better idea of where the story is going when I get through with the first draft. It is only then (and sometimes later) that I get an idea of what the novel/story/article that I am writing is really about. When I do get stuck, I often take my character for a walk around a nearby track. As we walk in circles together, I ask my character questions: What am I missing? What do you really want to do in this scene? Some days the answers come on our walk, other days they come later– in the shower or while driving across town.

  15. 15 Cat September 23, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Hmmm. Deadlines help me, but since I don’t have them in fiction (no contract dates to meet), it’s all up to me. Generally, that’s a big problem. I can put off starting for months. Not reasearcing, but note-taking, and not writing. Once I make myself start, I rip through. I mean, I write pretty fast, and it’s not just bare bones. I don’t stop and reread, though, and don’t do any editing while I’m writing. I’ve done this before, and for me, it’s a big mistake. I might not ever make it past page 5 of anything if I stopped to consider how badly written it is. For me, the speed, the idea of just drafting, that pretty much removes the censor. Often, when I go back to reread and edit, I don’t even remember the specifics of much that I’ve written. This amazes me, but it does make editing easier. I can be a little more objective then.

  16. 16 Jenny Greenleaf September 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

    The first drafts of my WIPs are detailed, but I wouldn’t call them in-depth. That’s something I really need to work on and improve. I find myself spending a lot of time, though I’m unsure if it’s considered too much time, going back through the pages with my red pen adding in more details. While some may consider that the purpose of a first draft, I want to learn how to hook the reader in the first draft, and then further develop what is already “good” during the revision process.

  17. 17 Marie Cauley September 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Normally I am slow and methodical, especially on days when the muse is not cooperating. When it does cooperate, I can turn out quite a bit of work quickly. The more often I write (and the more types of writing I do), the faster I am able to work…it just takes practice for me, like anything else.

  18. 18 Kelli Perkins September 23, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Just the idea of attempting to write a novel has always seemed daunting to me…BUT after reading “The Wednesday Sisters” by Meg Waite Clayton recently, I was truly inspired and have been thinking about novel ideas more and more. I probably think about it too much. I need to just WRITE! I clicked on the NaNoWriMo site recently – do I dare? After reading some of the other comments today though, I am really considering doing it. (Geez! Butterflies are flitting around in my stomach just thinking about it.)

  19. 19 Jenn Crowell September 23, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I really struggle with spontaneity and creating a safe space to “play” in my first drafts. I tend to be a very methodical, nitpicky editor of my own work, even in the early stages (most likely because I do freelance editing for others as well), and it’s hard to turn off that part of my brain.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a benefit to being this way — an eye for detail is always a literary plus, and editors have (positively) commented that my first drafts don’t feel like first drafts at all. However, you can take this agonizing art form way too far, and I’m actively working to correct this.

    A few things that have helped me:

    1. Writing prompts! Giving myself permission to write guided short scenes (connected to, but not beholden to, my current novel-in-progress) has been such a freeing way to explore possibilities.
    2. Giving myself deadlines to ensure forward momentum. This is where being in an MFA program where I have to submit 20 *new* pages a month is a huge help, but self-imposed deadlines with some kind of accountability (even to a critique group or writing partner) could work too.
    3. The words of one of my grad school lecturers: “Write drunk, revise sober!” (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

  20. 20 writerinspired September 23, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I have to ditto all those who gave credit to NaNo for speed writing a first draft. I didn’t think it possible for myself which is why I took the challenge last year. It is exhillerating to write from the mind and heart and not the English Professor brain. Looking back at my fiction, those stories that I wrote all the way through were magical once I went back with a fine tooth comb.
    If I think too much when writing fiction, I do get stalled, then bored, then blocked. I’d be fascinated to see what tips are offered in this book!

  21. 21 Lorraine Wilde September 23, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I type faster than I can write so I type whenever I write. Some writing purists I’ve spoken with say they learned traditionally to write free hand, and then rewrite free hand, but I definitely think everyone should do what works best for them. I type, and fast, trying to get as much out of my head as fast as possible, and then when its out, I go back and expand, revise, rearrange the pieces. That works for me.

    I’ve also been trained as a technical writer, which means succinct, so now that I’m transitioning to memoir, it has been hard for me. I tend to get the bare bones out there on the page, organize the thoughts and order, and then, often, when I show it to others, they suggest I lengthen or expand a particular area. My trouble is that I assume that the reader knows already fills in the depth behind a single sentence, but I’m finding that some readers might prefer that I expand it for them, rather than leaving them to fill in.

    Definitely a transition. Thank goodness for writing groups and editors!

    Lorraine

  22. 22 Emily September 23, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Writing a first draft for me is very different depending on whether I’m writing nonfiction (usually an article) or fiction (usually a children’s early novel or picture book). With nonfiction, I gather my research, create an outline, then basically “spew” out a first draft. Typically that draft is 1.5 to 2 times as long as my target, which allows me to cut out the fat until I’m left with tight, clear copy that’s free of redundancy. With fiction, I’m usually a bit slower, writing a chapter at a time and reworking each time I reopen the manuscript to start a new chapter. I have a lot more experience with nonfiction, though, so my fiction writing could very change the more I practice and learn, which is why I would love to win today’s book!

  23. 23 Janel September 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    When I write short stories and I try to get as much of the story down as I possibly can in one session. I find that when I come back at a later time to finish it I’m not happy with the writing. It’s like I’ve lost the “magic” that made me start in the first place. I type as fast as I can and try not to worry about those squiggly red or green underlines in Word. If an alternate way to phrase something pops in my head then I add that and try to keep going. Write first, edit later – or that’s what I try to do!

  24. 24 Beth Cato September 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I can write a first draft quickly – I’ve done Nanowrimo since 2002 – but that doesn’t mean the actual pace of the novel moves quickly. That’s a problem I’ve had with each of my manuscripts. I just did a complete rewrite of my latest project, and I hope it moves briskly now. I need those first three chapters to do their job when I get more partial requests!

    As for forcing that censor aside, Nanowrimo is the way to go. I work very well with a deadline. I must do a minimum of 2,000 words, but if I get going I can go well above that. Last year I somehow did 75,000-words because I had a full chapter outline and character bios ready to go.

  25. 25 Kathryn Lang September 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

    My first drafts for my fiction books have been SLOW but that is because I do not make my fiction writing a priority. Focusing on my fiction more would make the draft move quicker. I have had success in my personal essay writing and my ghost writing so it is easier to put my energy in that. My fiction stories come to life for me but I have not tried to sell any of my fiction to day so it is easy to consider it a habit and not give it the attention that it needs.

    1. I must make time every day to write on my fiction. If I put it on my schedule then I am more likely to do it.

    2. I need to work on selling some fiction short stories to build my name as a fiction writer and to build my confidence.

    3. The NaNoWriMo is the perfect challenge to help me push myself to write on complete (and quick) novel.

  26. 26 Stephanie September 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I struggle with my first drafts of fiction. I type, I pause, I sigh, I pace, I tug on my hair, I mutter a few bad words, I type some more, I delete what I just wrote, I pick up my sagging confidence by the collar and shake it a little, I eat some chocolate, and then I sit down and get to work. And that’s just with short stories. I’ve never even tried a novel, yet I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. I’m stocking up on chocolate now.

    I’m thinking this book would be a very helpful resource…whether I win it here or not!

  27. 27 Dawn Herring September 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I’m the slower, methodical type novel writer. I take my time. I don’t like to rush things, since, when I attempt to write a scene before it’s ready, I end up wasting my time, usually not able to complete it in one sitting. So, I give myself the space to ruminate, contemplate, and apply the framework to what comes next before I take the plunge and write the scene. I find when I give myself the proper pacing to how frequently I work on things with my novel, the more depth the novel takes on.
    I’ve learned to trust my instincts and not put the cart before the horse. I like to be prepared and ready.

  28. 28 Laura September 23, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    If I am writing non-fiction, then I am able to write with speed and depth. I get that first draft out fairly easily. Sometimes I start with a basic outline, sometimes not.

    When it comes to writing fiction, my first true love, I write in stops & starts. I have not yet found the right rythmn. I’ve tried writing with an outline, and without. This seems to hold true for each of the books I’ve been trying to write. I seem to have an easier time with short short stories…writing one of them my pen blazed across the paper, only stopping when my hand cramped up. Now if only I could find that same speed and depth in writing longer fiction pieces. I know I have books inside of me…just waiting to be let out.

  29. 29 Joanna September 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    My censor always lurks over my shoulder, so I have to make a conscious effort to ignore it and write. With first drafts, writing without censoring is always my goal. With creative nonfiction essays, my favorite genre, the write, write, write tactic works pretty well, especially if my story has been percolating in my brain for a while. Writing-without-censor bogs down with my journalist-style pieces because I’m always stopping to get the information in the right places. But with these articles, I’m learning to make notes as I go, such as [more info here], [add quote here], [look up stats here], etc. Always a learning curve.

  30. 30 Debbie Mickelson September 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I’m a logical thinker and that often gets in the way of getting a first draft quickly on paper. I need to have everything nice and neat before moving to the next paragraph. My inner critic triggers my writer’s block and stops me from breezing through a first draft. Unless it’s a journal entry, I tend to constantly self-edit as I write. I use MS Word on my laptop, and I “must” fix flagged misspellings and grammar immediately. Nonfiction work flows slightly faster than fiction, as I typically bubble my ideas prior to the first draft. It’s a form of outlining, and I find that it organizes my thoughts and direction.

    I do work best and ultimately quicker with outside deadlines. I think Laura’s book and NaNoWriMo are tricks to try this year to boost my productivity and quiet my inner critic.

  31. 31 artographystudio September 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I write both quickly and slowly. My inspiration and motivation seems to come in impulsive spurts. I will write as much as I can during these moments because I know it won’t last long, and the next one may be awhile in coming. I know that I am more successful when I try to maintain a steady writing schedule, but my creativity is violently sporadic. So when I’m on, I write quickly, but depending on how often I am on, it will take a long time for me to finish a project.

  32. 32 Brianne A September 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I like to brainstorm about the ideas that I have for something before I start the first draft. I’ll either make an outline or jot down a list of things that I want to include. To get past a block or to unload whatever is on my mind, I’ll set the timer or a set a page limit and free write whatever crosses my mind. It works very well for me and opens up more space for creativity to flow. If I think too much about what I want to write before I start, the process seems to take a lot longer.

  33. 33 Joyce Lansky September 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    When I get an idea, it’s like lightening. I’ll usually whip out a first draft in two or three weeks, but it needs a lot of work. As far as the depth of my first draft, I don’t know. I think these quick works are pretty shallow. It takes me time to work out details and hidden meanings (if I ever find depth).

    The trick to writing quickly is to just let your mind flow. You also need to be fully engaged in your story. When I’m not writing it down, I’m thinking about it and taking notes on any piece of scratch paper I can find. On a first draft, I don’t worry about small stuff, or big stuff for that matter. I just brain-storm and crank out a story.

  34. 34 JoAnna September 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Before I begin my first draft, I think a bit about the direction I want the piece to go in, and then I just hit the road running. I write fast, yet spend time thinking about the general sound of the sentence. I consider the rhythm of the words, but generally I talk with myself when I write and let me natural voice flow onto the paper. I am often surprised at how well my first draft “sounds” when I go through the draft for the second time.

    I reduce the censor by allowing myself to consider the “road map” before I begin, but once I start writing, I power through. I don’t go back and read what I’ve written beyond the previous two sentences, and if I need a fact or figure, I note XXXX and move on without stopping. I can fill in the details later.

  35. 35 Liz Staley September 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I do my rough drafts fast! Sometimes a little too fast, actually. I spend much more time on revisions and adding things to the story than I do on the first draft because a lot of my draft is “and then this happens, add more later”

    Doing NaNoWriMo last year killed my Inner Editor. And when they do try to show up, I just get on Write Or Die so that they don’t have time to derail me!

  36. 36 Carrie Ure September 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I do 80% of the work before I sit down to the computer. My ideas percolate. I might mentally incubate something for days or weeks, and when it’s time to give birth, I let it flow. When an idea feels urgent, that’s my best chance at getting it down, and it happens quickly. I am much more slow and methodical when it comes time to edit. My most efficient method for getting the ideas to flow is to get into the bathtub or shower. Something about the warm water relaxes my brain so that my ideas flow in.

  37. 37 Renee Roberson September 23, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    With non-fiction, I can hammer out a rough draft pretty quickly as long as there’s plenty of coffee to drink and a deadline breathing down my neck! With fiction, it’s usually hit or miss. I started one novel and abandoned it after a few chapters. It’s still sitting on my hard drive and I really should look at again soon. I’m in the process of working on another one, and it’s coming along slowly. I’ve got a writing software I tried to use to outline the plot develop characters, but I spent so much time working on that I figured I might as well be typing it all into the actual book itself! I’m much more methodical with long fiction, because there are so many elements to think about. With short stories, I have a tendency to dash off a draft quickly and never look at them again. I really need to stop doing that. I’m still at a loss as to how to let the words flow more quickly, but I like some of the other posters’ ideas about setting up a deadline schedule for yourself and sticking to it.

  38. 38 Krysten H September 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    The first draft is always such a challenge for me because I have always been told you have to grab the agent or editor in the first few paragraphs. I even bought the book about improving the first few pages and I admit I tense up writing beginnings. I try to silence my inner censor by not editing until I finish the 1st chapter, which is hard for me since I constantly want to go back and fix everything. Recently I spent a whole month mulling over my opening sentence. I couldn’t explain how or why, but I just knew my opening sentence wasn’t working. It was like it was in the voice of another character all together. I finally broke through that block, but cleaning my kitchen—my hated task because I knew if my hands were gross with cleaner I’d have the urge to type and it worked!

  39. 39 Mar Junge September 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I can write a first draft of a nonfiction article really fast. If I’m following an outline and have done my research, everything just falls into place because I’ve mentally written most of the article. I write so much marketing collateral that I know exactly how to phrase concepts. Usually my drafts need only minor editing by me. The time-intensive part is making the changes from the various execs and managers who think they can write.

    I can also crank out the first draft of a short story or a chapter of a fiction novel fairly fast. Here’s my trick: I pretend my computer is an old typewriter and whiteout hasn’t been invented. I just keep the ideas flowing and my fingers flying. It’s a wonderfully cathartic experience to get all the stories that have been brewing in my head down on paper. Then I put my story away for at least a week. When I come back to read it with a fresh viewpoint, editing is much easier.

  40. 40 Mary E. Knippel September 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Wrestling with the inner critic is a challenge I encounter every time I decide to write whether it’s a journal entry, thank you note, essay, personal profile or 700 word feature article. What I have learned to do to keep the critic at bay is to always keep my pen moving across the page, always anchor my journal entry with the date and description of my writing surroundings, and schedule specific writing time. In writing memoir starting with a seed and embelishing the scene bit by bit is a very rewarding experience. Rewriting and editing takes place when I transcribe my journal entries into computer files. Often eye-opening discoveries appear while I wade through tedious repetitions of the same dilemas. I’m sure techniques presented in Laura Whitcomb’s “Novel Shortcuts” would show me how to transform pages of notes into published pieces.

  41. 41 karen k September 23, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I’m methodical. I’m a lister. I’m an outliner. I’m trying to change. It doesn’t matter how much I organize before I begin, the real stuff comes out after I get the first draft out. I will try several of the things people have mentioned here to get the censor out of the way. One of my goals is to write one draft without correcting anything. Hear that fingers? No backing up to correct a typo. Ahh, someday.

  42. 42 Kathy September 23, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Actually, when I wrote my initial draft, it poured out of me. I wrote like I couldn’t get it out fast enough. My words delighted me, and my characters became real. But when I finished and re-read it, I realized that I had merely skimmed along the surface of the story. Basically, my first draft became my outline, so to speak. Since then, I’ve rewritten and added details. I’ve studied techniques and online tips from published authors, agents and editors. I joined critique groups to give and get suggestions. So I would say I spewed out the story, then went back and shaped it toward its ultimate form. Both fast and slow.

  43. 43 Lisa September 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I am still extremely new to the process, so I am very all over the place. I wear the censor like a hat. In reading some of the comments, it sounds like Nanowrimo might help in terms of speed and be worth a try to get me going. In a nutshell, I find it very difficult to match my head and my hand in a first draft. I like to be very methodical in life, but in writing my head is all over the place with different angles to take the story. I have a hard time getting started until I have a good idea of all the places it’ll go.

  44. 44 Amy Becker September 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Currently, I’m working on my third “first novel” after two failed attempts so far. I’m very methodical about my writing and tend to want to get everything perfect before moving on to the next chapter. Right now I’m on chapter three and am refusing to look at my first drafts of chapters one and two until I finish a short first draft. I figure my first draft will be about 100 pages. Then I can go back and build on that and create more depth. The problem is that I get scared to write because I’m scared to fail, as I have twice before. This time I’m determined to overcome that fear and really finish this. I’m trying to write a chapter a week, with a major blitz during NaNoWriMo in November. I’m hoping to have the short draft done by Nov. 1 and will then work each day to have a 200 page draft by the end of November. I like the energy and speed of the NaNoWriMo challenge. It helps me to silence my inner censor and focus on word count alone.


  1. 1 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 23, 2009 at 9:45 am
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