Slow and Steady vs. Fast and Furious

Greetings, Midgardians.

As this month of July is what they call CampNaNo, we, the YAvengers, are here to speak to you about drafting your novel. I have been told there are some who call themselves "speed-drafters," and others who refer to themselves as "slow-drafters." I am here to tell you about both.


These fine people are quite the typists. They have the blessed ability to turn off their inner-editor and let the words flow. Not only that, but the words flow with the speed of a Chitauri hovercraft. (If you missed the battle for New York, just know that means very, very fast.) The best of Speed-Drafters not only win NaNoWriMo every year, but they can sometimes write a novella in a weekend. Ten-thousand-word days are not uncommon for these writers.

High word counts are to be celebrated.

However, it should be noted that speed writers tend to also be binge-writers. They are those who go days without writing anything, then will sit with a chunk of time and not stop for anything. They may schedule an entire day just to write (don't we all wish we could). (Note, this is not the case for all, just something I personally have noticed as a trend.)

A downside to speed-drafting is that the resulting manuscript will usually require a great amount of revision. Turning off one's inner-editor can be a blessing when words are needed, but that editor is absolutely necessary when trying to fix a problem or find the precise word or sentence structure. Speed-drafters might be able to write a novel in a month, but the revision can take much longer to get it just right.

Does this sound like something you do?

Any comments?


Slow-Drafters are gifted with patience. Whether they are plotters or pantsers, architects or gardeners, slow-drafters want to get things just right. Rather than turn off the inner-editor while drafting, they use it. They take their time constructing sentences and scenes, making sure they have it the way they want it. The good news of this is that revisions tend to take less time. For those of you who despise revising, perhaps this method might be your style.

Patience... paaaatience...

These writers are more likely to have regular writing time scheduled into their day. They are the consistent ones, spending a little every day in order to make slow and steady progress. (Again, not the case with all, simply a trend.)

You might think the downside to this method is spending so much time editing during the draft that they never finish the novel. This is certainly a struggle for some slow-drafters, but a practiced slow-drafter will know when to cut themselves off from tweaking and move on. Slow-Drafters do in fact finish novels.


As you can see, both of these methods have strengths and weaknesses. I have pointed out the extreme cases, of course, and most of us will fall somewhere between these two types. As always, I would encourage you to attempt both and see which works best for you. Only you can know your writing process.

Good luck.


  1. I need to be a speed drafter, or I quit on a novel (or get distracted by shinier ideas. LOL)

    I wish I could be a slow drafter. :/

  2. I like being a speed drafter, but if I ever want to actually revise it I have to physically write down the whole thing after the first draft to really get my "editor" on. It does take a lot of time, but I think it's also worth it.

  3. I'm definitely a slow-drafter. I don't write regularly. And I don't plot down to the milli-scene. But I can't turn off the inner-editor either. It doesn't have an off switch! And I do have a hard time finishing first drafters. But one day I really, really want to try what most speed-drafters do and just disappear for a day (or week) and just write and write. I'll have to find some time and give it a try.

  4. I'd probably land somewhere in speed-drafting land. I try to write everyday but I have to finish the novel quickly or write in it regularly or I tend to start new projects and they don't get finished. Slow drafting... that makes me cringe. I just couldn't... I can't imagine.

  5. I'm definitely a speed drafter, and I don't really like the implication that my drafts are inherently lower quality than other people's first drafts. Sure, if you take years to write a novel because you're obsessing over every single word, you're probably going to end up with a cleaner draft. But I've written a novel slowly, over the course of the month, and even over the course of a day, and the only difference I've noticed is more typos, which are annoying but don't really take that much effort to fix.

    I'm currently writing draft 3 of a novel for Camp. I wrote 32k in five days, and it would be a lot higher had I not taken most of yesterday off for the fourth. I'm really happy with the writing I've accomplished so far. Yes, it was written faster than most, but that doesn't mean it's lower quality.