My Epic Failure, Fast Draft, and Moving Forward

I’ve had one major writing goal since the beginning of the year: Complete a full rewrite of my YA contemporary novel (SHARING HUNTER).

This would actually be my third draft of the novel, and I have changed POVs, tenses, and subplots as I went. I have gotten feedback from beta readers, deep edited, made a timeline, and replotted. I swore last week that I would kick into gear with Fast Draft, a writing process promoted by author Candace Havens, and complete this novel. I had great intentions and high expectations!

On Monday, I spent hours writing and ended up with about 100 new words.

Feeling completely and utterly defeated as well as frustrated by my inability to get on the page what I know is a wonderful story that I can tell, I shut down that file on my computer and booted up a plot bunny that had held my attention a few months ago.

To my surprise, I had already written several chapters. I reread them straight through and thought, “Hey, this isn’t bad. I like this.” I found myself engaged by the characters, enjoying the protagonist’s voice, and excited about where this could go. I breathed deep and shut off any thoughts of returning to the YA contemporary for the moment. Then I started typing.

Still feeling a desire to Fast Draft–so that I could have an actual completed novel sometime this year and to test the process for myself–I made myself write for hours. I churned out 4856 words on the first day.

The second, I logged 5051 words.  The third, I got down 4231 words. By day three, I was in a groove. A Big Time Groove.

Because I was writing so fast, I didn’t open up my manuscript and have to re-read a chapter or two to get my bearings before starting. A line or two would do it. In fact, I applied a tip from James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. He advises that you start the next chapter and write a few lines there. Indeed, that practice helped me to keep the flow going when I could see where I was intending to go when I had stopped the day before.

On that third day, I also read Kristen Lamb’s fabulous post on her experience with Fast Drafting. While I don’t personally have big battles with my “Internal Editor,” I agree with Kristen that something seems to take over when you’re enveloped by your story. Call it Subconscious Mind or Happy Muse or Fairy Dust or Flow. Whatever it is, I feel like Stella this writer has got her groove back.

I’m sad that Sharing Hunter is sitting on a shelf for a while longer. I still want to write that story. I still think it wants to be written. But for the time being, I had lost the flow on that project and needed to move on.

After all, my single word inspiration for 2013 was to be the word FORWARD. “No looking back. No standing still. Keep moving forward.”

That’s exactly what I plan to do.

ROW Update


  • Complete full rewrite of SHARING HUNTER. DOA.
  • Fast Draft new project – YA mystery with no real title, but I’m called it PK Mystery #1. 19,584 words written this week. BAM!
  • Edit first short story. Deep-edited the story before. According to my plan, I let it sit last week and will polish it up this week.
  • Write second short story. First draft finished. I’ll edit this one in the next round.
  • Write blog posts for Sundays (including ROW80 updates) and Wednesdays. Posted What an Edited Page Looks Like on Sunday and Where to Check Your Words on Wednesday.
  • Complete weekly lessons for Writing Body Language course. Completed Lesson 5, but nothing more happened this week because Margie Lawson is a grandmother! Big congratulations to her and her daughter Tiffany Lawson Inman. I hope they can take some time to study their precious baby’s body language.


Non-writing goals

  • Exercise twice a week. Yoga on Wednesday. And for some reason, I’ve been incredibly sore all week long.
  • Take a true Sabbath–no working and time with God and family one day a week. Done.

How have your goals changed since the beginning of the year? Have you failed in one area but succeeded in another? Have you ever tried Fast Draft?  And do you know what a “PK” is?

34 thoughts on “My Epic Failure, Fast Draft, and Moving Forward

  1. Wow – you are steaming ahead so you totally made the right decision on moving forward. The inspiration form this will undoubtedly feed the YA contemporary at some point. Congrats on all your achievements Julie. You’re doing so well.

  2. Just keep going. The right thing will come to you. I know that sounds cryptic and weird. But it took me a LONG time to figure out how to do a major revision on a novel. That alone held me back from publishing for several years.

    1. I get it, though, Catie. You know I believe in the YA contemp, and I WANT to write it. You’ll be happy to know that in my current WIP, I’m throwing everything I can think of at my protag, and I think it will help me later to see how to raise the stakes in SHARING HUNTER. I really appreciate your cheering and your authenticity.

  3. I think we all have times of feeling like failures. Knowing that it’s simply part of the deal, like rocks on the otherwise smooth journey up, helps me.

    You are awesome, Julie! I just know that your wonderful story will thrive.

  4. Julie, you are awesome. 19,584 words! I’m so proud of you. You realized something wasn’t working, you pushed through, and moved forward. Rock star 🙂 You’ll get to Sharing Hunter, I have no doubt. When it’s time, it will happen.
    Habit building seems to be the key for me. I built a new one this round with craft study first thing. I have more to work on next round and I’m looking forward to it.

    1. Woo-hoo! I always wanted to be a rock star. Too bad I no longer have the body for the black leather pants I wanted to wear with that persona. LOL. 😉

      I love what you say about habits. I don’t like fixed schedules, but I am more productive with a rhythm and a routine. I’m looking forward to next round also. Forward, forward, forward!

  5. You know what, Julie, I think this is great! Not that you’re feeling stuck but that you’re channeling your writing into another project so you’re still writing. Time away from Sharing Hunter could give you some perspective about what you want that story to say and sound like – and perhaps clear up any conflicting suggestions that critique groups can bring in (cuz some help, and some don’t, right?). I’m so rooting for you all the way! Whatever the book may be, keep at it! Those are some highly impressive word counts!

  6. Awesome job! I’m so thrilled for you. Planning to try my own Fast Draft on a new WIP, just as soon as I get the outline completed. Your story has been very encouraging to me. Thanks, and good luck!

    1. Best wishes with your Fast Draft! I won’t have a full book in two weeks as Candace suggests, but I am definitely honing in and feeling that groove. I hope to be done within a few weeks. Thanks for your encouragement.

  7. Sounds like Sharing Hunter is your “learning” book. I’ll bet you pick it up later when you’ve learned more, and make it into what you want it to be! I had a book that I let sit for years between revisions, during which time I wrote new material and learned tons–and later, I revised that original book. It eventually became my first published book and one I’m still really proud of! In any case, it sounds like you made the right choice – keep up the good work on the new story!

    1. How many “learning books” does a writer need?!! LOL. Yes, I will pick it up later. I also have a mystery sitting around that needs a polish and sequels, which I’ll get to someday as well. *sigh*

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jennette. It’s inspiring!

  8. I am SO proud of you, Julie. I think a big part of writing happiness and success have to do with listening to yourself. Listening to what you need to keep moving as an artist. You did that and almost 20K in a week is AMAZING!!

    If you decide you want to keep going, several of us are being the guinea pigs for Rachel Funk Heller to try out her “Writing the Emotional Draft” course. It starts April 5th. Just let me know. 🙂

    1. This is nice to hear, Jenny, since I was so NOT proud of myself when I shifted gears. Thanks!

      Yes, I’ve talked to Rachel about that. She’s my EP in the current course I’m taking with Margie. I should check that out more. It’s coming up soon!

  9. That sounds like an amazing move, and it shows that when you listen to yourself and follow your energy, good things happen. I think we do have to walk away sometimes. We can always come back to it later. Maybe when we do, the answer will be there. What I find so impressive, and I want to know how you do it, is that you write a novel and short stories at the same time! How do you schedule that? I’d love to know. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Emma! I don’t usually write a novel and short stories at the same time: I edit one and write the other. Plus, there are different genres, so that helps me switch gears and get into character better. We’ll see how it goes, though.

  10. Awesome, Julie! (Except for the part about sharing a slogan with Obama and Fidel Castro. [“Forward.”]) Congratulations! I know what you mean about being immersed in the story. I, too, find it helps to start the next chapter before leaving it for the day. It’s like a marathon once it gets started, and there’s no rush like writing “The End.” Looking forward to your post telling us that you’ve reached that goal.

    BTW, when you’re stuck like that, try writing first thing in the morning on an unlined piece of paper. Write longhand, and write with your off hand if you can. Don’t censure or think too much; keep the hand moving. It’s a good way to get the juices flowing.

    1. Oh no! New slogan needed! Instead of Forward…Onward? Upward? Wayward? Awkward? :/

      Thanks for the tip and encouragement. I don’t usually write longhand because I’m SO MUCH FASTER on keyboard. I find my hand can’t keep up with my thoughts when I try to actually write. I should try that, though, for a different take.

  11. sometimes leaving a work is the way to go – rather than confront a brick wall – you are writing – imagination engaged – all good and those juices continue – will prob. kick start the first in time – well done- take care:)

    1. Thanks, Alberta! It was a brick wall there…a big, stupid, get-outta-my-way brick wall. I do think my imagination is more engaged now, though, and I’ll find my way around that wall later.

  12. I can relate Julie. In fact, have felt like I’ve walked away from more than toward so far this year. How exciting you’ve found that fire! And that wordage…stellar!! Congrats Julie.

  13. WOW, Julie! I love how you pushed forward and found another avenue to be productive. I think that’s the most important part. That’s awesome! We all need to learn how to do that because to be honest, I’ve often allowed myself to get stagnant whenever the creativity wasn’t sparking with a particular project. I’ve marked this post to help me remember that next time, maybe I just need to move forward with something else. 🙂

    And you *will* get Sharing Hunter completed soon, especially with your amazing work ethic. 😉

  14. I don’t consider that a failure at all, Julie. You may not have written what you set out to write, but you did write. A lot. And you’re happy with it. So I count that as a win. Good for you! The other will come when the time is right. 😉

  15. You made a brave choice giving up on Sharing Hunter, for now, and moving onto the next project. I have a similar situation with my contemporary romance. I’ve gone through the whole process, and it sits in a binder on my bedside table. I have beta reader responses for it, and needs A LOT of work. Thing is, I’ve moved onto new projects. I may return to Daughter’s Final Promise this summer, as I think the story has potential and I’d like to query with it again one day. But for now, I have to go where the muse leads me.

    Well done with the recent word counts!!! 🙂

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