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?


What I Learned in DFW and #ROW80

NYT Bestseller James Rollins & Me

If you did not attend the DFW Writers’ Conference, you may be tired of hearing those of us who did talking about how AWESOME it was. Rather than go on and on about how everything is bigger and better in Texas, even writers’ conferences 😉 , how about some general take-aways?

  • As long as you aren’t stalking or incredibly annoying, you can strike up conversations with agents because they are real people, at a conference to meet writers, and like talking about what they do (see Top 10 Things to Do at a Writers’ Conference). At the 2011 conference, I spoke to one agent — the one I had a pitch appointment with. This time, I walked away with six different agent names to send my work to after personal contact at the pitch session and agent/writer reception. So chat it up! What have you got to lose?
  • When you attend a conference, you are paying for it. Don’t feel obligated to attend a workshop you don’t need or to stay in one that wasn’t at all what you expected. I attended a class that was titled one thing and ended up being something else. (That was not common, by the way.) Ten minutes in, I gathered my stuff and left the room as quietly as possible. The teacher has no idea why someone leaves early — a pitch? a phone call from home? sickness? I wasn’t dissing her; the class simply wasn’t a topic I needed after all. I walked into a class next door and was SOOOO glad I did.
  • You can learn as much from chatting with other writers as you can get from the conference classes. I gleaned so much knowledge from conversations with Jenny Hansen, Donna Newton, Kristen Lamb, Tiffany A. White, Nigel Blackwell, David N. Walker, Jess Witkins, Kait Nolan, Jillian Dodd, Piper Bayard, and others that my brain was tingling with electricity by Saturday night. Asking others about their writing process, publishing plans, and life in general enlightened me in ways that made my trip to Big D well-worth all those hours and money.
  • No matter who you are, you can always learn more. It was marvelous to step into a workshop and see several published authors in the class as well. Taking notes. Learning more. Improving their craft.

What workshops did I attend? In case you’re interested, here’s a quick rundown: How to Pitch to an Agent (Rosemary Clement-Moore); The Changing Face of Publishing (an expert panel); Writing Love Scenes (Roni Loren – incredible); Anatomy of a Book Launch (Laurie McLean-agent, Kristen Lamb, Kait Nolan); Fast Draft (Candace Havens); Inside Publishing (Jill Marsal-agent); Revision Hell (Candace Havens); Writing Emotion (Lori Wilde); Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction (Laurie McLean-agent).

Bayard/Lamb 2012: Foxie with (literal) Moxie

Links to some FABULOUS posts about the conference from fellow speakers/attendees:

Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb encourages writers to push themselves in The Comfort Zone is for Pets, Not Professionals.

Romance author Roni Loren summarizes what agents like and don’t like in queries and first pages with What Will Make an Agent Gong Your Pages.

Writer (and my awesome conference roommate!) Jess Witkins discusses lessons learned in Celebrating My Writing Slump.

Jenny Hansen reports progress on her conference goals and teases us about Fast Draft (thanks, Candace Havens) with Bestselling Authors, DFWcon, and the Flu…Oh My!

Donna Newton makes me kick myself in How to Hook an Agent…The ‘SOO’ Publishing Way. How has this Brit managed to shoot so much stuff when I (a born-and-bred Texan) have yet to meet my goal of firing a real gun?!!

Jess Witkins, Me & Donna Newton

I also posted on Friday about What’s Next? The Hybrid Author, which was partially culled from my conference experience.

(I guarantee I forgot someone else’s wonderful post; I may update this later.)

One last pic: Me & Tiffany White

Enough already. Here are my ROW80 goals and progress report!

  • Log 5,000 words per week on young adult novel, SHARING HUNTER. This should result in a completed first draft. DONE.
  • If first draft is finished, edit once through SHARING HUNTER. I started revising, using the notes from my class with editor Tiffany Lawson Inman and tips from Candace Havens’s Revision Hell workshop.
  • Work on pitch and synopsis for DFW Writers’ Conference (taking place May 19-20). Did it! Pitched. Need to send my queries.
  • If I get all of that done, edit through THE YEAR OF FIRSTS, my middle grade novel which is in second draft form and has been gathering dust for a few months. Waiting on 3 tasks above.
  • Read one writing craft book. My choice this round is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Took a break from this goal until after the DFW Writers’ Conference.
  • Read through March/April issue of The Writer’s Digest. I can’t find the March/April issue, so I started working through the issue that just arrived in the mail.
  • Take course from Tiffany Inman Lawson on 77 Secrets to Writing YA Fiction that Sells from the Margie Lawson Writers Academy. Slowly catching up!
  • Read 10 books keeping to my At-Least-3 Reading Challenge for 2012. On track. I have read six books so far: The Killer Inside Me; Getting Rid of Bradley; Graceling; The Man Who Was Thursday; The Heart-Shaped Box; One of Our Thursdays is Missing. Reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
  • Post ROW80 updates on Sundays. Keeping up.
  • Exercise three times a week — length of time to be determined. Skipped Zumba. May I count the four hours of helping with our church youth’s group car wash on Saturday? I know I burned some calories there.

So how’s your ROW80 week? Be sure to cheer on fellow writers HERE.

And if you are interested in attending the DFW Writers’ Conference in 2013, they are offering a super early-bird registration price of $225 (early-bird is $295) until June 1. The conference will be held May 4-5, 2013 at the Hurst Conference Center. I will be there!