Did you know there’s more than one way to write a novel? Of course you did, there’s always more than one way to do most things. Fast drafting is pretty trendy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone outside of the month of November.

fast drafting

What is Fast Drafting?

Fast drafting is what you do when you participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s also exactly what the name suggests: writing a draft of your story fast. The basic idea is to get the fundamentals of your story (plot, dialogue, setting, character action) onto paper ASAP and leave the rest to fix during a slower rewriting and/or revision process. This requires you to plan out these elements beforehand, which means outlining in detail. You’ll also need to be able to turn off your inner editor during the process in order to make quick progress. Most fast drafters shoot for an average of 1,000 words an hour.

You’ll also need to be able to turn off your inner editor during the process in order to make quick progress. Most fast drafters shoot for an average of 1,000 words an hour, leaving no room for worrying about things like sentence flow. Fast drafting isn’t about putting your best writing on the page, it’s about getting the gist so you can go back and make it your best later.

When using this method outside of NaNoWriMo, there doesn’t have to be a time limit. Though, it might defeat the purpose if you spend more than two months “fast drafting.”  You should definitely have a set timeframe in which you’d like to finish, based on your intended word count and what your writing schedule will look like.

How to Figure Out if Fast Drafting is for you

Fast drafting is not a process that’s suited to every writer. In fact, a lot of people who take part in NaNoWriMo learn that they simply aren’t built to write this way all the time. Pantsers, especially, won’t be taken with the idea of a fast draft, as it requires preplanning in order to be truly successful.

Signs it might be your thing

You enjoy the pre-writing process. You create detailed outlines of your plots, down to the scene level, so you know that everything you spend your time refining will be essential to the finished product. You write detailed backgrounds for your characters and plan out their arcs. You understand their motivations and like to know what they’ll be up to in any given scene.

You like the revision process and don’t mind having to go back and refine what’s there after the fact. In fact, you believe that the real work of creating happens during revision, not the initial burst of creativity.

You have the flexibility to create dedicated writing time and accomplish your goals quickly. Fast drafting requires a beefed up writing schedule. Setting aside hours a day to complete your first draft is the only way you’ll actually knock it out as quickly as the name suggests.

Fast drafting might not be for you if

You don’t enjoy pre-planning your stories. You start with a vague idea of where this story and these characters will take you, but you like to be surprised as you go along.

The idea of a long revision process turns you way off. You like to put your best foot forward right off the bat, meaning you think about how your words sound as you put them down. Your inner editor won’t let you leave a subpar description to come back and fix later. Or, maybe you find it really difficult to edit your own work. I, myself, have a difficult time with revision, mostly because I’m pretty intentional with my writing the first time around.

You can’t set aside more time than you already have for your writing. You’ve made writing a priority, but your schedule just won’t allow you to take entire Saturdays to knock out hundreds of pages at a time. That’s totally fine, you work with what you have!

If NaNoWriMo has taught you nothing other than you are not a fast drafter, then you have succeeded, friend. Writing is a “you do you” sport. The best way to find success is to figure out what works for you and keep doing that.


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Author: Whynott Edit

Hi, I'm Megan! My mission is to help underrepresented writers refine their words, strengthen their skills, and tell the best possible versions of their stories.

If you have questions/comments/concerns about writing, editing, or publishing, or want to suggest a post topic, feel free to reach out to me! megan[at]whynottedit.com