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The Writing Cave*

Although it may look like all I’m doing is spamming out my blog tours for NEED (sorry ’bout that), I’ve actually been deep in the writing cave pounding out a first draft of another novel.

That got me to thinking about the different ways writers get their rough stories onto the page, and whether any one way is more legit than another. There seem to be two camps:


Fast drafting is allegedly the most efficient way to upchuck a story onto the screen. The idea is to write as fast as you can by turning off your inner editor and all gate-keeping. The draft may suck (some pre-planning, like an outline, is required) but people who subscribe to this camp like to say, “You can’t revise a blank page.”

Good point.

There are programs like Write or Die and events like NaNoWriMo that help (force) writers to fast draft. Candace Havens also teaches a class on the technique.


Anyone who doesn’t fast draft is a plodder (not to be confused with plotter — that’s a different post). These writers like to take their time, sometimes writing as swiftly as fast drafters, but not on purpose. They carefully craft their sentences and produce relatively clean first drafts.

A plodder’s inner editor is present at all times, causing them to commit the heinous crime of backspacing. (I know, look away from the horror.) And while they occasionally take part in one of Twitter’s #1k1hr writing sprints, it probably takes everything they have to ignore the voice in their head screaming at them that what they’re writing is utter crap.


Because things are only black and white in books and movies, chances are you fall somewhere in between these two camps. Hats off to the hardcore fast drafters, but IMHO, there’s nothing wrong with taking your time, either. Of course, deadlines have a way of turning plodding tortoises into fast drafting hares, but if you’ve got the luxury of time, I see nothing wrong with letting your writing simmer.

Also: real life. Not all of us can set aside an entire month to hammer out a draft. We have kids, summer vacation, carpool duties, spouses to cook dinner for, homework to check, unexpected overtime at work, etc.


Surely we writers are more evolved than to think we have to divide ourselves into to camps like Democrats and Republicans. (Oh, burn!) Seems to me that switching between the two is the most reasonable, depending on circumstances. And just like we love our children very differently (they are completely separate, unique people after all), there’s no need to say that one way is better than another. They’re just different.

How do you write? Are you a speed machine or a calculating craftsman? Do you change depending on the circumstances, like deadlines? Any resources we should know about?


*Image courtesy Creative Commons