How prolific are you?

Fast draftIn mid-March I went to a Kelley Armstrong Q&A as part of the Toronto libraries Eh! Author Series. During her introduction Kelley reeled off the five titles she has coming out in 2015 and my jaw dropped. Five books! And they’re not slim 60,000 word novels either. They’re hefty door-stoppers.

Kelley’s not alone in her prolific ways, there are many writers, past and present who can rack up the word counts. Dame Barbara Cartland is said to have averaged a book every 40 days. She also snagged the Guinness World record for most novels written in a single year when she bashed out 23 new books. Enid Blyton wrote more than 800 children’s books during her career (and generated more total sales than J K Rowling). Sci-fi novelist Issac Asimov published over 468 novels. Nora Roberts isn’t too far behind with over 200 titles under her four author names.

And then there’s me. I am not a fast writer. On my best days when the skies are blue, the traffic lights are a all green and my apartment is optimally heated and lit, I can write 3,000 words. But I find that speed outpaces my creative ideas and I end up scrapping much of the word count during rewrite. Whereas if I do a more leisurely 1,000 words a day I’m usually happier with my output.

However, I do admire speedy writers, so every now and then I try to push my writing limits.

Accordingly, last Saturday I traipsed along to City Hall to hear columnist and author, Candace Havens share the formula for her intensive writing technique – Fast Draft. The method challenges you to produce 20 pages a day for 14 consecutive days. It works best when undertaken with writing partners who can shame and coddle you (as needed) until you reach your daily goal.

At 20 pages a day you can hammer out an entire novel in two weeks. Who wouldn’t love that? If you’re up for the challenge, the rules are simple.

1. Forget routine, fit your writing in wherever you can

2. Feel free to write a terrible first draft

3. Gag your inner critic

4. No redrafting!

5. No excuses

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