Title: Fast Draft Your Manuscript and Get It Done
Author: Joan Bouza Koster
Genre: Writing Craft – Non-Fiction
Do you struggle to complete your writing?
Have you had trouble meeting deadlines?
Or do you simply want to write faster and enjoy the process while doing so? If so, then Fast Drafting is for you.
Fast Drafting is a proven set of techniques and strategies that can be applied to any piece of writing from blog post to novel. Tested over the author’s decades-long career as an author and educator, the Fast Drafting Method is easy to learn, customizable for your needs, and designed to get results quickly.
Why Fast Draft?
Whether you are writing your first novel, or you are a professional writer with numerous publications, adopting Fast Drafting techniques can help you improve the speed and even the quality of your writing.
Fast Drafting methods have been used successfully by many writers. But it is not a lock-step system. Please feel free to use the ideas in this book in any combination you wish to add speed and flow to your writing regime.
Using Fast Drafting methods will help you do the following:
1. Get a piece of writing finished.
2. Write in a unified tone and voice.
3. Lift you over “speed bumps” in the writing process.
4. Break bad writing habits.
5. Address procrastination.
6. Produce a feeling of accomplishment.
7. Enter the creative state of FLOW.
Fast Drafting and Finding the Flow
Flow is a mental state in which time, sounds, physical distractions, and more fall away and all your creative energy focuses in on your task. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow characterizes what we call flow as a time when we are so engrossed in an activity nothing else in the world matters.
According to Stephen Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, being in the state of flow causes major changes in our brains. Norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin flood our bodies. Brainwaves slow down. The prefrontal part of the brain that controls self-criticism deactivates, and our sense of self and self-consciousness lessens. Time recedes, impulse control decreases, and our performance becomes more fluid and creative. It is a wonderful feeling.
Children naturally enter the state of flow when they play. You see it when they are totally immersed in what they are doing. The toddler spreading paint over a piece of paper with their fingers, the preschooler pushing a toy truck through the mud, or a kindergartner dressed up as a firefighter and pretending to put out a fire are all in the state of flow. If you call them, they will not respond immediately and may even be annoyed that you disturbed them.
Weighed down by rules and schedules, it is much harder for adults to enter the play-like state of flow. If you are lucky, you may have accidently experienced flow. Have you ever found yourself so involved in writing a story or creating a work of art or concentrating so deeply on a piece of music that you have lost all track of time? You look up at the clock and ask yourself where have the hours gone? Or maybe you sit down to write and suddenly the words flow across the page so fast your fingers can barely keep up. You find yourself breathless and exhilarated. Afterward, when you reread what you have written, you can’t believe you wrote those words. That is what it is like when you create while in the state of flow.
But it doesn’t always happen, does it? Sometimes you sit down to write and nothing comes into your head or maybe composing every sentence feels like a herculean task, or perhaps, you cannot get settled. You jump up and down, wander off onto the Internet, or just plain give up. Has that happened to you? It has happened to me, too. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just will ourselves into the exhilarating state of flow when we needed to?
So how can we create that wonderful exhilaration of being in the state of flow when we need it? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that setting the stage for flow to happen requires five basic things to be in place:
1. A clear ending goal
2. An immediate self-feedback system that cues you that you are moving toward that goal
3. A challenging task that is just within your range of capabilities
4. No fear of failure
5. An activity that you enjoy
The components of Fast Drafting are designed to meet these needs. In the following chapters, we look at goal setting, ways to gain positive self-feedback, how to set personal challenges, how to avoid feelings of failure, and how to discover and maintain the thrill of writing.
Is Fast Drafting for Me?
Any writer can use the Fast Drafting technique. It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction or non-fiction, an essay, a research paper, a textbook, a short story, or a novel. Writing fast in the state of flow will help you get your ideas down quickly and smoothly, no matter what the length or purpose of your writing effort.
However, there is one thing Fast Drafting does not do—it does not produce a finished manuscript. Instead, Fast Drafting produces a sloppy, rough draft full of typos and missing punctuation and places that need lots of revision. Depending on your writing experience, you will probably break many writing rules. A fiction writer might name emotions instead of showing them or leave out important descriptions of setting or sensory elements or character movement. The non-fiction writer might leave blanks when short on facts. All writers might use clichés and overused words.
This is all okay. All of these issues can be fixed in the revision and editing process. So, accept that Fast Drafting will not produce a polished manuscript, but it will produce one you can work with. Not only that, once you stop worrying about what the finished work will be, some amazing things happen. In fiction, dialogue becomes less stilted, plot becomes page turning, and characters’ emotions rise to the top. In non-fiction, ideas become more fluid and examples more illustrative and arguments and defenses more heartfelt.
Not sure you want to write something messy? Think about this: Why waste effort straightening up every sentence and paragraph or page or chapter as you write when you may end up cutting that section of writing later in the revision process?
What Fast Drafting does is get your ideas down on the paper as a unified whole, written from beginning to end in one long stream of concentration in a compact period of time. In most cases, your draft will contain the unornamented bones of ideas, arguments, characters, and plot. But you will have a draft to work with and be on your way to fixing it.
And here’s a secret. The more manuscripts you Fast Draft, the fewer errors you will make and the faster you will write.
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When she is not writing in her studio by the sea, Joan Koster lives with her historian husband and a coon cat named Cleo in an 1860s farmhouse stacked to the ceiling with books. In a life full of adventures, she has scaled mountains, chased sheep, and been abandoned on an island for longer than she wants to remember.
An award-winning author who loves mentoring writers, Joan blends her love of history, and romance into historical novels about women who shouldn’t be forgotten and into romantic thrillers under the pen name, Zara West. She is the author of the award-winning romantic suspense series The Skin Quartet and the top-selling Write for Success series.