Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mission Impossible…or Quality vs Quantity

By Debby Giusti

If you’re like me, you’ve probably grappled with the Quality vs Quantity question. At first, my focus was on improving the quality of my writing. I studied craft and worked to ensure my stories had all the key facets that would make them shine. After writing a number of books, my pace increased, although quality was still more important to me than my rate of production.

Some of you may remember a study on the quantity/quality issue (ART & FEAR, David Bayles and Ted Orland, Image Continuum, 1993) I referenced in a previous blog. An art instructor divided her students into two groups. One group was told to work on only one piece of art during the entire semester. That piece of art would be submitted at the end of class for a grade. In the other section, the students were told to produce as much art as they could in the same time period. Those who created numerous works of art ended up with higher grades, and their work was far superior to the group that spent all semester on one project. From the study, it’s easy to deduce that increasing production, or quantity, also improves quality.

One of my writing goals this year has been to increase my production. In keeping with that goal, I wrote two novellas for the Seeker collections, in addition to my contracted Love Inspired Suspense stories. The deadlines kept me focused and on track, and the novellas provided a refreshing change of pace between the longer stories. The only setback came when the story line for my September 2016 book took longer than usual to develop. For whatever reason, the characters wouldn’t cooperate and getting the first three chapters and synopsis into a final form ate up precious time that I needed to complete the rest of the story.

That's when I attended the Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight and Magnolias Conference and knew God was in charge when I stumbled into Candace Havens’ Fast Draft workshop on how to write a book in a month. Candace provides lots of motivation for those who sign up for her online program, and I’ll only touch on a few of the strategies she provided in her workshop. Basically, she said to write twenty pages a day for two weeks without editing or revising to produce a Fast Draft. During the second two weeks, edit thirty pages a day. Accountability is important, and she suggests tackling the month with other writers and sharing daily page counts.

Thankfully, I had completed the synopsis and first three chapters, which for me are always the most difficult to write, but with a deadline looming—only a month away—I took what I needed from her workshop and quickly started working. To write fast, I used my AlphaSmart, a portable word processor. Each of its eight files holds 25 pages of text when downloaded to my computer and formatted into Courier New, 12 font, double-spaced pages, with one inch margins. My 55,000-word Love Inspired Suspense manuscripts run about 325 pages, or 13 AlphaSmart files. That meant I needed to fill an AlphaSmart file--or write 25 pages—every day.

To speed me along, I set my kitchen timer for 30 minute intervals and wrote non-stop until I heard it ding. Then I’d break for water, a quick stretch, and start writing again. The days passed quickly, and my Fast Draft was completed rather easily by the end of the first two weeks.

The second two weeks were much more intensive. I edited a minimum of six hours a day. Some sections of the story required more work than others, and I soon found that I couldn’t use Candace’s 30 page/day editing formula. Rather, I worked back and forth through the pages, approximating my progress and praying that I could complete the revisions on time.  What seemed, at the beginning of the process, to be a Mission Impossible turned into a success.  By the end of the month, I had a completed manuscript that was submitted on time.

Towards the end of my Fast Draft month, I saw a quote on Facebook attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi that intrigued me:

As you probably know, Francis was a 13th Century Italian who gave away his family wealth to follow Christ. His quote probably refers to living the Gospel message and performing Christian acts of mercy and compassion, but it applies to the writing life as well.

Oldest known portrait of St. Francis, dating to 1223,
located in St. Benedict's Cave in Subiaco. (PD-US)
We start by doing what is necessary. For me that was creating the story line and writing the synopsis that I used as a guide. Then I did what was possible. I wrote 25 pages a day. Turning the rough draft into a polished story was the hardest step in the process. At first, the task seemed almost impossible, but by working through the pages, day after day, the story came to life.

My goal was to write faster so I could be become more productive. In the future, I plan to use Fast Draft to write the bulk of the story, but I’ll allot more time for edits and revisions.

To unleash creativity, give yourself permission to write without editing. Don’t think of the impossible, think of what’s necessary. That’s the key. Ask yourself, “What can I do today?” Accomplish that first task and then move on to the next goal. Repetition/quantity improves ability/quality. Soon we’re achieving tasks we never imagined possible … and eventually, we’ll be doing the impossible and doing it well.

What’s your impossible? How can you break it down into steps to make it achievable? Remember #NOLIMITS!

Have you thought about your writing goals for 2016? Are you focused on quantity or quality? Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you tried Speedbo or any other book-in-a-month program, and if so, what worked for you and what didn’t? Share a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of PERSON OF INTEREST. I’ll also include a writing journal and kitchen timer!

In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you. You’ve touched my life and made it richer in so many ways. May the Lord bless you abundantly and may all your writing dreams come true!

Happy Thanksgiving,
Debby Giusti
Visit me on Facebook for Daily Scripture and Sacred Art 

By Debby Giusti

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Also available:
A HEARTFUL OF CHRISTMAS, a Christmas collection found everywhere you buy digital stories.

“A Miracle for Christmas,”
By Debby Giusti
Nurse Brigid O’Grady refuses to open her heart to NYPD Officer Tony Calabrese, knowing she could lose him to the gang violence that killed her dad. But, while working to save a patient on Christmas Eve night, Brigid is confronted by the very danger she most fears. Can Tony save Brigid…or do they both need a miracle to make the darkness turn merry and bright?

Order your copies in digital or print format: Amazon.


  1. Oooooo Person of Interest sounds intriguing! Debby, YOU ROCK. I love your guantity turning to quality!

  2. I'm not a writer, but I do apply the quality v quantity to my craft work. I find that if I just go with the flow I achieve more with better results.

  3. Hi Debby! Great post! When I'm writing I have a hard time controlling myself from editing as I go. Unfortunately, I spend more time editing than writing. This is something I am working on changing. "Fast Draft" sounds like a system I should try. Thank you for sharing.

    I would love to be in your drawing.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  4. Oh my goodness. If I could just get over the editing as I write. This has given me much to ponder. I envy writers who have a set way to produce. Every book is different for me. It always depends on how much the book pulls from me emotionally. Some are easier to write than others.

  5. I just finished "Person of Interest" yesterday, and I loved it, Debby! I love your Military Investigations stories, I love the glimpse into military life, and you do it so well. What a marvelous read, and I found myself thinking how seamlessly you incorporated the three threads of faith/suspense/romance as if they were one rope.


    This post amazes me, it amazed me when you told me how you were doing this. What a cool process. I am a steady turtle, but even doing that helps me to get a high word count/month. So that works for me, but I can totally see the advantages of this.

    AND I LOVE THAT YOU'RE IN SEEKER COLLECTIONS, VOLUMES 6 AND 7!!!! Did you know if you type Seeker Collection into Amazon's search engine, all of our volumes come up???? SWEET!!!!

    Great post, Deb!


  6. Hi Debby,

    Even though you wrote a fast draft, it sounds like you had a synopsis to go by. Not seat of your pants.

    Thanks for the challenge. I'm participating in NaNo. It's always tricky hosting Thanksgiving and write. Ha! We'll see if I make it.

    I loved Person of Interest, so don't include me in the draw. Anybody who hasn't read it definitely needs to toss their name in the hat.

    Thanks for sharing Debby!

  7. Hi Marianne!
    Glad you like the sound of PERSON OF INTEREST! You rock! :)


    Did you get coffee?

  8. Congratulations on getting your manuscript completed and submitted on time, Debby.
    Your post is the reason I'm such a fan of NaNoWriMo. Both of my experiences have resulted in 50+ words that later were rewritten and turned into a novel. The great thing about a fast draft is the sense of accomplishment and the motivation it provides.
    I'd love to be entered for a copy of Person of Interest.

  9. Hi Mary Preston,

    I was surprised when I first read about the art class results. Love that quality vs quantity applies to most things we do.

    What type of crafts do you like? I find most writers are artistic in the craft and painting realms. Stands to reason since writing is an art. That creativity carries over into a multitude of areas.

  10. Hi Debby,

    I was in that workshop, but I have yet to apply the tasks! Thanks for this encouragement. :) And yay on another Debby book to read. I just taught my online Sweet Passion 101 for Savvy and used your Phil/Kelly book. :) Love!!

  11. Cindy W,
    If I use my computer, I edit. The AlphaSmart lacks editing functions so I just keep typing. For me, it's a wonderful tool.

    Did you know, it was developed for special needs students? My daughter is the head of the special ed dept in a local middle school where they have a number of AlphaSmarts. Somewhere along the way, a writer starting using the portable word processor, and word spread like wild fire within the writing community. I doubt the company realized the jewel they had when the first Alpha was developed.

  12. Hi Debby,

    What an interesting post. When I'm writing my first draft, I try to just get word count down, but by the end of a week I usually go back and do some 'revising' to what I've written before moving forward. It's easy for me to lose track of plot points if I don't go back occasionally and read through my manuscript.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, I already have your book!

  13. Tina,
    I agree...some books are harder than others to write. Interesting that your technique varies with each book. I've tried to change. I want to write a set number of completed pages each day, but it doesn't work for me. Inevitably, I go back to using my AlphaSmart.

  14. I've never participated in nanowrimo, but I always love participating in speedbo and setting new goals. Sadly, I have not mastered writing without editing. However, I am getting a little less obsessive, and I can let a few minor things (commas) slip by in the first draft, knowing I'll fix them during the edits.

    Please, don't enter me in the drawing since I've already received a copy of Person of Interest. It's a fabulous book, but I knew it would be. I love your Military Investigations series.

    Debby, I'm waving to you and sending hugs! I hope the weather doesn't get too rough in your area today. It's been extremely windy here all night, and the rain has just started to fall.

  15. Ruthy,

    I always want to write like you do with your daily page count. It seems so controlled and steady. But it's not the way I roll, unfortunately! :)

    Thanks for your kind words about PERSON OF INTEREST. Did I mention the story is based on a true event? Perhaps another blog...someday.

    I didn't know all the Seeker collections would pop up on Amazon. Must type in "Seeker Collections" to find all the great reads! So glad I could take part this year.

  16. Jackie, you're always so gracious with your comments about my stories. Thank you!

    Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

    Yes, I'm a plotter and that's what took me so long initially. The story wouldn't come together, for whatever reason. Some are harder than others, as Tina mentioned. Once I nailed the synopsis and first three chapters, which included knowing my characters, I could move forward.

    You write suspense. It's a different ballgame, I think, in some respects. I need all the pieces in place at the onset. Don't know how anyone could pantser a suspense, although some authors do just that.

  17. Debby, thanks for this inspiring post! I can't seem to write a rough draft, but I'm impressed with your process and productivity. I have an Alpha Smart but only use it when riding in the car. Like Tina, I will ponder this. Perhaps there's a way to stop my mind and fingers from revising.

    Loved how you kept suspicion on the heroine in Person of Interest and the high stakes, especially with a baby involved. Great job!


  18. Jill, you're in the drawing.

    I've never done NaNo, and the timing was wrong for this book. Congrats on getting 50+ written each time! I find doing a fast draft immerses me totally into the story and helps me "see" it unfold.

  19. Lindi, aren't you sweet! Yes, you are! :)

    Thanks for using one of my stories as an example in your class.

    I should have mentioned that I texted my page counts to Darlene Buchholz and Anna Adams each night. They were also working on their own Fast Drafts! Love that accountability!

  20. Speedbo helped prepare me for Nano this year. I still prefer Speedbo over nano. Nano has been successful for me this year. I am now at 47,000 and hope to write The End by tonight. The only editing I have done is if I notice an error in the line above where I am typing and it is just as easy to correct it now when I see it.

    I had a new experience yesterday, when one of the participants in Nano from my area asked how I can write so quickly. I shared what I have learned with them, but feel like I am certainly no expert.

    I feel better about this one than the one I finished a couple of months ago. Although I know it will have major editing to be done.

    I am thinking that my next big step is to join ACFW. Then enter some contests next year.

    You have all been such an encouragement and I want to thank all of you. Now I must eat breakfast and get back to my story.

  21. Hi Debby:

    You wrote:

    "In this season of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you. You’ve touched my life and made it richer in so many ways. May the Lord bless you abundantly and may all your writing dreams come true!"
    Debby Giusti

    This is so much your voice that really didn't need to sign it!

    A little story: my wife reads your dedications in the books you sign and says, "This Debby is really a wonderful person, isn't she?" I always answer, "Well, she's a Christian Inspirational romance writer from a military family. Would you expect anything less!"

    BTW: Linda said the same thing after meeting Mary, Ruth, and Tina. You're all such good company. We Seeker friends are also thankful.

    Now, today's post had quotes popping into my mind in great quantity. I'll mention a few here for the fun of it.

    Paul Gauguin: With all your talk of emotion, all I see when I look at your work is just that you paint too fast!
    Vincent Van Gogh: You look too fast!
    (I've read this for years. I think Irving Stone wrote this in a book.)


    "The impossible cannot be done by definition. However, we always have the freedom to change the definition."


    "It's not that quality and quantity are always at odds. Some types of quality depend on quantity. Like glass blowing. While other types of quality depend on patient attention to craftsmanship. Like making a Stradivarius. The importance lies in knowing which type you are dealing with."


    "When it comes to my writing: I've tried quality. I've tried quantity. And they both tired me."


    " 'No Limits' is an aircraft that you can fly faster than the speed at which it disintegrates in the sky. It will fly you from here to eternity in nothing flat."


    And so it goes. Now I have to do the editing job from hell. All real estate courses have to be revised to the new laws that went into effect on 1 November. All tests and pretests must be taken and checked against the revised text material to be validated. This is about 200,000 words. And my Laws course has been selected to be the first course audited and evaluated by the educational expert, a PhD in this kind of thing, by the state. It is due now. Editing still going on. Sometimes it is not quality or quantity. It's quickness!

    (Please don't think I don't write.)


    P.S. I went to Amazon to buy the really great sounding "A Heartful of Christmas" but I already bought. I'd say you Seekers are going pretty fast as it is. : )

    BTW: Word says 'heartful' is not a word! And now I see: so does Blogger!)

  22. Happy Thanksgiving, Debby! I am doing Nano this year. The one main thing I've learned so far, is get into a routine of writing every day. And if you're writing every day, you aren't as likely to get lost about where you are in the story when you pick up writing again. I'm learning to write and keep going. Before I had to make sure every chapter, every page, every sentence was how I wanted it before I moved on. Now I'm getting the story down. It has been an eye opener! Thanks for sharing your tips. Accountability is key I think to keeping it moving. At this point it is just me keeping me accountable and sometimes that doesn't work. I can talk myself out of writing so quickly! I would love to be entered for a copy of your book!

  23. I have always been encouraged by that art story. As soon as I read the title of your blog post I thought of it.

    I think we learn as we work and learn from our work. I have tried different ways to increase productivity and timers often feature heavily in the various processes. That and shutting off the internet which you essentially do by using an Alpha Smart! Smart girl! Anyhow, good post and a good reminder that more can be better.

  24. Vince, praying for your productivity with the pressure of this deadline.


  25. Yes, Debby, I got coffee! As well as a heart full of love through all the comments. Thank you

  26. Good morning, Debby! Thanks for the info about Fast Draft. I still find myself editing as I go but sticking to a daily word count has helped. I heard a story once that Karen Kingsbury shuts herself away for two weeks to write each of her novels. I couldn't fathom how that could be done, but with no editing capability on your AlphaSmart, I get it now.

    As a journalist, I wrote stories in record time on a manual typewriter to make daily deadlines. No editing capabilities. No back space. No delete key.

    Twenty-five pages a day sounds like a real stretch, but I'm inspired now to give it a try. :)

    Oh, and since I've already read PERSON OF INTEREST (terrific read!) you don't have to put my name in the drawing.

  27. Debby, this is a great concept. Tried NANO and Speedbo and they are great, but never had a system presented on HOW to do it. Right now I'm focusing more on quality because there are still some craft things I find elusive (structure is my Waterloo), but I can see a time when I'll be able to speed things up, and when I'm contracted it will be a necessity.
    Put me in the drawing, I always enjoy your books.
    Kathy Bailey

  28. The art class thing doesn't surprises me either. The more you do something, the better you will be at it.

  29. Debby, I loved this post. And that God showed you how to write when you had your deadline looming. :)

    I haven't used the Fast Draft method you've described, but I love fast drafting my first drafts. I've found that when I know the direction of my story, I can write it pretty fast, without editing. I find that the creativity also comes when I'm writing fast, not worrying about revisions or edits.

    I write my synopsis before I ever begin the story. This helps me know where the story's going, and it helps me write fast. :)

    Your newest book sounds great!

  30. Wow, Debby, I'm so impressed! I do well to write 1-2K in 4-5 hours! I probably spend WAY too much time belaboring every turn of phrase, each character's action and reaction, and setting details I could probably just as well add in later during revisions.

    I admit it--I'd much rather get it right (or close to right) the first time so I have to spend less time on rewrites and revisions.

    The great thing about the writing biz is that there's no one-size-fits-all for HOW we get those stories on paper! All that really matters is the end result.

  31. Hi Debby,

    Loved Person of Interest--a fabulous story!

    I've participated in NaNoWriMo several years...never finished the total word count... but it's always given me a great start to a new story...and helped me practice the writing without editing technique. (Hard for me!)

    Your post inspires me to keep on keepin' on!! Thanks!!

  32. I agree that not all books can be done at the same speed. My last one moved along at a steady and quick (for me) speed. But the current one is harder and not moving along as well. I edit the first chapter or two. But then I proceed to the end before editing any more.

    Glad you made your deadline.

  33. I just finished "The Agent's Secret Past", your great novel that won the Daphne du Maurier Award. (Of course you know that, but maybe not everyone here does!) An exciting Military Investigation with an Amish thread.

    My goal for 2016 is to learn to plot in advance. I've written SOP in the past and feel there must be a better way. I plan out other parts of my life--surely I can learn at least the basics of plotting a book. I think this will also help me write fast since I will have an idea of where I'm going.

  34. Hi Debby:

    I look at your 3000 AlphaSmart and then I think about my 2000 and I wonder: "What could have been". Of course, the snow doesn't help. : )

  35. Debby, do you use a USB cord to transfer the text from the AlphaSmart to your computer, then cut and paste into a Word doc? There are several used ones on sale at Amazon.

  36. Just got back from church and catching up. Thanks to everyone who left a comment!

    The coffee's hot, and I brought loaves of pumpkin bread and apple bread from Fresh Market. Also scones from Starbucks! Enjoy!

  37. Hi Rose,

    I like your technique of writing fresh pages during the week and then reviewing and editing at the end of the week. Do you work over the weekend?

    In the past, I've written the middle with my Alpha and then kept the climax and ending until the bulk of the story was done. This time, I had that ending in place, although I needed to tweak it a bit before submission. Still, knowing that I had written a draft of the entire book gave me the whole framework for the story. It actually eased my stress a bit. A blank page is my greatest enemy! Once words are written, I'm at a better place.


  38. I love posts that talk about writing fast. BIAW or book-in-a-month. All of them.

    Debby, during the fist 2 weeks when getting the words on paper, how long does it take you to write 25 pages? And how does it not fry your brain?

    Most writing days, I set the timer for 20 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. I think 2 hours is about the point where I start crater, but maybe that's because I start seeing everything around me that needs doing.

    Please toss my name in the hat for Person of Interest.
    No Place to Hide was very first LIS. :)

  39. SALLY--"The one main thing I've learned so far, is get into a routine of writing every day. And if you're writing every day, you aren't as likely to get lost about where you are in the story when you pick up writing again."

    This is so true...

  40. I'm waving back to you, Rhonda! We're supposed to get wind later today. Right now, we're rainy and gray! Not too cold, thank goodness!

    Thanks for your sweet words about my series! :)

    Early on, I couldn't have done Fast Draft. My success with this story was a culmination of pushing all year. Perhaps I needed to prove to myself that I could write a book in a month. Not that I want to have to push that much again. Still, it's nice to know that it can be done.

  41. Janet,
    I use my Alpha in the car as well. It's so easy to tote...and quite durable. Mine is old, very old. I'm hoping it keeps working. The new ones have more functions, which I don't need. I might be encouraged to edit, and that would slow down my pace.

    Even when I write a blog post, I'll often use my Alpha. It lets me think and type and not over analyse, so I just get words written that somehow end up in a finished form. :)

    Thanks for mentioning the positive elements of PERSON OF INTEREST. Being a bit too close to the story, I don't see the pieces that work and instead look at it as a whole.

    How's your weather? Do you have snow? Someone at church mentioned heavy snowstorms. Makes me glad we just have rain.

  42. Here's a dumb question- what's a writing journal? Is it a journal that you write in? Or is it a journal just for writers that has specific questions for daily accountability, inspiration, reflection, & sparks for creativity? If it isn't the second, then we should invent one. Just 5 minutes of journaling at the end of a writing/work day would be a good way to wrap up the day & feel successful.

  43. Wilani,

    Your progress is amazing! And you wrote another book two months ago? Yes, you need to join ACFW or RWA and start entering contests so you can get feedback. You're doing the quantity vs quality. By writing, you're becoming a better writer.

    I'm sure you feel more confident now and understand how to turn a phrase more easily. All that comes with experience...writing experience, whether the stories are published or not.

    You're a woman to watch! And we're cheering you on!!! Set some goals for 2016 that will move you to publication. Okay?

    Joining a professional writing organization is a good start. Entering contests is as well. Read books published by the publishing house to which you plan to submit your stories. Get to know what they are looking for in submissions. Go to conferences and pitch your best story to a number of editors. Perhaps, depending on where you plan to submit, look for an agent to represent your work. Are you in a critique group? Find another writer and learn from each other.

    Most important of all, keep writing! :)

    I'm so proud of you! Hugs!

  44. Hi Debby
    I love the Assisi quote. Now, if I can only apply it. My brain knows what to do, but I tend to not kick into gear and actually do it. I think I need something like your AlphaSmart to write (and DEFINITELY away from the internet) and get things done. I also need to be away from my little guy's activities because I get sucked into what he is doing. Of course, if I venture to a different room, it only takes about five minutes for him to come looking for me. Momma time is precious to him, even if it's only me sitting near him as he plays. I may have to practice flash fiction writing and save actual book lengths for when the Gupster is older. (btw, his cast is off, must wear a removable protective brace til Dec. 3 - we'll see what doc says about his forearm then)

    As always, I like being in the draw for your books. They are always so awesome to read.

  45. Great post, Debby. I am so methodical and have struggled with speed. However, recently, I'm writing more (thankfully due to contracted books and deadlines) and I'm amazed by writing faster, I'm able to get out of my own way. When I go back and read the pages, I'm more often than not surprised by the quality. It's not so bad. :D I also continue to read craft books and this also leads to better writing. I feel like it's a snowball that has finally picked up speed downhill after years and years of learning my craft. Let's hope I don't smash into a tree at the bottom of the hill. Love the St. Francis quote. Might have to print that one out.

  46. Vince, hug your sweet wife! Linda is a jewel, but you know that! :)

    I often think when we're attracted to people, it's the God in us that recognizes the God in them.

    Loved your quotes! Changing the definition of impossible is food for thought! Great! Also the Gauguin/Van Gogh quips!

    I'm feeling your pain on the changes you need to make to your course work. How wonderful that you're being reviewed at the state level! That's an amazing accomplishment, Vince! Sounds as if you're into something even faster than Fast Draft! We're all cheering you on and praying for your strength and endurance during this revision process!

    BTW, I see you as a Renaissance man. Does the label fit? :)

  47. Sally,

    You're so right about the importance of writing each day and how that routine keeps the writer in the story. I often added a few thoughts when I finished a file that would help me get started the next day so I never lost my place or my pace.

    Yes, yes, yes, you're in the drawing!

    Perhaps you can become accountability partners with one of the other Villagers doing NaNo. I found it helpful to know I wasn't working alone!

  48. Carolyne,

    I can get lost in Facebook. Really! Time passes and I'm enjoying what everyone else has to say. That's not good for production!!!

    As you can imagine, I had to limit my time on FB during my Fast Draft month. :)

    So glad you stopped by Seekerville today! Glad to know you use a timer as well. Such a little device that spurs a writer to...well, write!


  49. Marianne, your sweet comment made me smile!

    Hugs and love!

  50. Debby,I loved this post and the quote from St. Francis is something I'm attaching to my computer as a daily reminder. I'm currently writing in NaNoWriMo and it's my first time. It's been crazy but I'm loving the challenge.

  51. Barbara,
    Thanks for sharing the info about Karen Kingsbury. Her stories are so rich. I would have thought she labored over each word-phrase-scene, carefully and slowly written to evoke such emotion! I wonder if she uses an AlphaSmart in her two week Fast Draft?

    During your time as a journalist, you knew your subject, knew how to get the right word count and could produce without editing. That's a gift! I have a feeling you'll settle into a similar pattern with your fiction.

    When I freelanced, I often wondered if I'd eventually be able to pull a full-length manuscript together the way I, at that time, could write a magazine article. I eventually got to that place. Not that the stories come easily, but I can see the entire picture and how each manuscript needs to be set up. Also it helps with pacing and knowing where I am in the story.

  52. Debby, you are AMAZING. I loved reading how you tackled your seemingly impossible task and met your deadline---Wow! I'm always interested in learning new ways to be productive, so thank you for sharing this.

    I especially liked this, and now have it posted by my computer: Repetition/quantity improves Ability/quality. A simple but important reminder! :)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, sweet friend. You and the other Seekers/Villagers are a special blessing in my life.
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

    p.s. In honor of you being the blogger today, I baked an apple crisp and a peach crisp, warm from the oven. Enjoy!

  53. Thank you, Debby, for the blessing of your post. My writing is stalled right now, but your thought Ask yourself, "What can I do today?" has me thinking. My WIP from Speedbo is a chaotic jumble, but today I can organize it a bit. And I do believe quantity will improve quality.

    Your results from the Fast Draft workshop are inspiring! I'd consider the revision process Revision Paradise......because I'd HAVE a completed manuscript to revise. :)

    Thank you for this post (with the lovely photos) and for your daily Facebook posts of Scripture and Sacred Art......always beautiful!

  54. Hi Kathy,

    Craft is so important so don't get discouraged, you're doing what's right for you at this point in your journey to publication. As I mentioned, I focused on craft at first...and still do. I set craft goals with each story. Areas that need improvement. But when I'm on deadline, the clock is always ticking. And I don't mean the timer. I mean the editor's clock as she anticipates my submission. So, I need to balance quality vs quantity.

    This time the clock almost ran out and that pushed me to write faster than I would have otherwise. Thankfully--and I know the Good Lord was guiding me along--I got the book written and submitted on deadline. Next time, I plan to write a Fast Draft to get the story framework in place and then spend more time on edits, where I can tackle all those craft issues that need improvement.

    Thanks for your support! You're in the drawing!

  55. Jeanne,
    Sounds like we're kindred spirits. Yes, yes, yes to your writing technique. You're a plotter, just as I am. I need that synopsis in place before I start the story. Thanks for confirming the creativity that comes when we write that fast first draft! I do believe editing inhibits my Muse. I get tied up with craft instead of story.

    Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving!

  56. Thanks Debby,

    It's so helpful to read about the journey and successes/struggles of others.
    Appreciate your laying out the step by step process you took.

    And yes, would love to be in the drawing for POI, as we say in the biz. ;)

    Stay dry! It's POURING rain here in TN...

  57. Hi Debby:

    'Renaissance man' probably applies to how old I feel when faced with each new 'impossible' challenge; however, I'm much more a late Roman Empire, Saint Augustine, type man. The Renaissance man was into Aristotle, the Augustinian man was into Plato. In fact, some in the Church wanted to make Plato a saint back then, but the non-philosopher church doctors, with their less than high school educations, prevailed. (Philosophers always eventually become heretics.) So even though Plato gave us the immortal soul, the ideal world beyond the material world, and a Christian theory of ethics, he's just a pagan. : (

    I'm with Plato.

  58. Wow Debby, I've heard of that and know of people who can do that. reminds me of na no and our speedbo. I just can't seem to do it. I'm too left brained I guess. Might try it again. smile

    The Alphasmart definitely helps because it is a real pain to edit on that machine. so you don't.

    Congrats on getting the book done in time. You are an amazing woman.

    Love your bible photos and quotes here and on your facebook.

  59. Writing without editing is the hardest thing for me. But when I wrote my book for Speedbo I was able to do that because I didn't have time to also edit. So I guess it is possible for me.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

  60. Vince, best wishes on all those edits. Do you have to do those every year? Seems like you do. I've heard you mention them before. Wow. That's a big job.

  61. Sharee, good for you, jumping in on NaNoWriMo!!!! I don't think I've met you here before, I'm waving madly from upstate NY!!!!!

    Welcome to Seekerville!!!!

  62. I don't know if I'm in the necessary or possible stage, but it feels like the impossible. Yes, that's an exaggeration... I haven't gotten to the impossible yet.

    Okay, back to the necessary stage of writing the rough draft! :)

  63. Myra, your writing is so rich. I wish I could write a daily page count that was clean and ready to submit. I've tried, but it doesn't work for me.

    Yes, we each have our own way to write. Changing out of that pattern is hard, if not impossible. Wait, but the impossible can become possible. Hmmm? Maybe I'll try, try again. :)


  64. Kathryn,
    So glad you enjoyed PERSON OF INTEREST. Thanks for your gracious comment about the story.

    Congrats on your NaNo progress. I've never been in the right place in my writing to start at the beginning of NOV. That's why Fast Draft was perfect for me.

    Do you have a daily word count and do you write a clean first draft?

  65. Helen,

    Like you, I never know which stories will move quickly to completion and which ones will take more time.

    If only we knew why! :)

    I edit my first three chapters as well. Those take time for me because they lay the foundation for the entire story. So important, IMHO.

    Have a joyous Thanksgiving with your family.

  66. Dana, so glad you enjoyed THE AGENT'S SECRET PAST. I loved writing that story. The Amish thread added a new dimension that was fun to research and weave into the plot.

    Published authors who write SOP usually admit that they have some type of an outline or synopsis in place to guide them as they write. They know the beginning and end, but the middle is what holds those end points in place. So the middle is important as well. Your outline/synopsis doesn't have to be as detailed as a plotter might have, but even a brief overview will help you stay on track.

  67. Barbara, yes, the files transfer to my computer via a USB cord. I download right into my WIP.

    I've talked to a number of writers who have purchased used Alphas online. Most found them in mint condition. Your local schools might have some as well. Not sure if they'd want to sell any of them, but perhaps you could use one (if you know a teacher) and see how it feels. My keys are a bit harder to strike than my laptop keyboard. The batteries last forever, and because the Alpha was made for special ed kids, the device can be dropped and handled quite roughly without problem.

  68. I love that meme! Start doing what's necessary and next thing you know you're doing the impossible!


  69. Hi Connie,
    A 25-page file takes six 30-minute sections to write. Three hours. But that's if I know where the story is going at that point. And I take breaks. Meals need to be cooked. Dishes done. Laundry. You get it. Life goes on.

    One thing with the Alpha, I keep writing until the file fills. It doesn't have page numbers. The text just keeps running, line after line. Maybe that helps to push me as well.

    I do get tired at times. Actually, I forced myself not to work late at night. I'm better in the AM and afternoon. I also got enough sleep during the first two weeks. Not so much when I was editing.

    Two hours of fast writing a day is great, Connie! That moves your story along quickly and keeps you in the groove and in the story. I wonder how writing fast for an hour would be and then editing those pages. Might be an interesting experiment.

    You're in the drawing! :)

  70. Jana, I love your idea of a real "Writing Journal!" The one I've included in the drawing is just a journal. Evidently, I call it a writing journal because it's lined and is a place to write. :) I see how that could be confusing. But it also sparked your creativity with the type of journal I believe many writers would love to have.

    Take that idea, Jana, and run with it! Really!

    Sending love and prayers! Hugs, too!

  71. Hi DebH!

    I need to get your timer in the mail. Thanks for your patience.

    Of course, your little one wants Mama's attention. When mine were young, I'd stand at my kitchen counter to write. They would play at my feet while I typed. If I sat down, they wanted to be on my lap. Then I put my writing on hold until they were grown. Don't do that. Keep working, even if you can't write long...just write. And flash fiction is great. Writing tight is a wonderful gift! Plus you have your graphic art as well. You're so creative, Deb!

    Enjoy every precious moment with the Gupster now. You'll never regret that Mom time.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  72. Hi Alison,

    Deadlines force us to be productive, don't they! I think a lot of us are perfectionists. We want everything in our stories to be perfect, but that takes far more time than our deadlines might allow. So we have to juggle that quality vs quantity.

    I like your snowball analogy. You won't hit a tree! You're on a roll!!! :)

    My takeaway from your comment: "I also continue to read craft books and this also leads to better writing."

    You've motivated me, Alison, to read a new craft book! Thanks.


  73. Sharee,

    Congrats on tackling NaNoWriMo!!! I'm cheering you on!

    I love the Francis quote too!

    Keep us posted on your progress!


  74. Wow. 6 30-minutes sessions sounds fast to me to get in 25 pages. There's a LIS book I'm toying with. After I finish writing the historical I'm working on, I'm going to try this method.

    And Debbie, if I'd write 2 hours/day x 5 days/week I'd would increase my productivity 10 fold. :) Too many days I don't write. I'm getting better but I have a long way to go.

  75. Debby, thanks so much for sharing this with us! I was excited to watch you do this Fast Draft method. I loved Candace's presentation at M&M. It made so much sense! I need to try doing this.

    I've never officially done a book in a month program. But I've worked through some "book" in a week challenges and Speedbo. I like working in a condensed time period like that. The story stays fresh.

  76. Alison, I love how you said that when you write fast you get out of your own way. Love that! And I need to do that. :)

  77. Patti Jo,

    Hope you can glean something from my experience with Fast Draft. Just getting words on the blank page helps me.

    Thanks for the crisps, Patti Jo! I'd love a slice of each. YUM! No calories, right?

  78. Sherida,

    So glad you're reviewing your earlier manuscript. I know you can edit it into shape. Try working through the pages a number of times. First, just tackle spelling and grammar errors...or other easy to spot problems. Then go through again and focus on your dialogue, perhaps adding action tags or making sure of the story flow. Then the next time, work on another aspect so you're not fixing every problem at first. Plus, by going through the entire manuscript, you can find holes or scenes that need to be switched, perhaps new scenes that need to be added. Before long, that "jumble," as you called it, starts to flow smoothly.

    Thanks for mentioning the scripture and sacred art I post on FB. I love finding the right paintings/frescoes/stained glass for each scripture.

    Also, thanks for noticing the graphics I created for today's blog. A first for me. I had so much fun...of course, I'm not on a deadline so I had the time to play around with the pictures.

  79. Hi KC,

    The process always fascinates me. Glad you enjoyed learning about Fast Draft!

    The high winds and storms are headed my way. The sky is growing dark. Tornadoes are always a worry, especially when our warm air hits a cold front.

    Stay safe in Tennessee!

    Did May get a doggie treat? Hope so! Hugs and pats!

  80. Plato or Augustine, Vince?

    I'd pick Augustine. :)

  81. Sandra,

    Do you write clean pages each day with a daily page count? If so, I'm in awe! If only...

    Thanks for mentioning the FB scripture/art posts. :)

    Happy Turkey! Will you be cooking in your RV?

  82. Sandy, you're in the drawing.

    Did you enjoy writing fast for Speedbo? Do you see how you can use that fast draft at times? Or does it take you too off course?

  83. I'm laughing, Pam. Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Do you have a timer? Shall I send you mine?

  84. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for stopping by today. We all enjoyed your blog yesterday!

  85. Connie,

    There are days I don't write either, at least not on a manuscript. Right now, I'm trying to come up with a new proposal. I'm doing a solo brainstorming of sorts...thinking through various scenarios. I need to get something down on paper.

    Probably need to use my AlphaSmart to develop some of the possibilities.

    My editor just emailed me. She read my Fast Draft manuscript and was happy with the story! Which makes me happy! :)

    Connie, LIS is looking for new writers! YES! Write that LIS story that's begging to be told. I'll be your cheerleader!!!

    Remember, start with what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you're doing the impossible. Thank you, Francis of Assisi, for a great quote!


  86. Missy, so glad Candace was at M&M or I might have been struggling to get the story written. She had lots of great tips, didn't she!

    God blessed me during the month I did Fast Draft. He cleared my schedule so I had few outside commitments, other than watching the grands play sports. :)

    I submitted my manuscript on Monday, Nov 9th, and I've been running ragged every since with events and activities that I needed to attend. Yet, for that month, I had the time to write. God is good, and He provides what we need and when we need it!

    Are you having storms yet? The weather report sounds ominous. Stay safe!

  87. Debby, the hard rain just started. I guess I need to check the weather report! The TV has been off all afternoon.

  88. Missy, a tornado touched down in Palmetto. Too close! We were under a tornado warning, but that's over now. Hoping for calm the rest of the night.

  89. Congratulations on meeting your deadline, Debby! I am in awe of writers of suspense or mystery. Whatever process you use to complete your books, the reader is the winner.

    Thanks for those gorgeous pix and thoughtful quotes :-)

    Nancy C

  90. Hi Debby:

    Augustine tied church thinking to Plato. St. Thomas Aquinas changed that to Aristotle. Augustine and Aquinas were the two greatest, most influential and most prolific church doctors. I've found many believers who feel the church should have stayed with Plato and Augustine. Plato was of the view that the wise man knew that he didn't know. Aristotle was more the absolutist. In fact, for hundreds of years, proof for an argument was simply stated as 'ipse dixit' -- meaning 'he said it' -- with him being Aristotle. There may not have been an Inquisition or Protestant Reformation if the church had stayed tied to Plato and had not become so dogmatic. But then we will never know. Aristotle was still a very great philosopher.

    So this was my little break from real estate law! Thanks.


    P.S. I wonder what Missy's husband thinks about all this.

  91. Hi Janet:

    Thanks for the prayers. Sometimes prayers work so well, (they have for me many times) that it is almost like cheating! Prayers and Tylenol seem to be working. Hope to have the audited course off to the printer tomorrow. Thanks again.


  92. Hi Sandra:

    The real estate law changes every year. Some years there are two or even three change effective dates. November 1st is the norm but July 1st is also a favorite. Many years there are only minor changes but you still have to check every legal citation in the text to insure that that part of the law has not changed. In 2000 and 2013 they almost rewrote the entire law. Never had so much work just to stay where I was! You also have to check each test question to insure that a change in the law does not alter the answer to that question. Of course, if this was easy, anyone could do it and I might be out of a job. : )


  93. Debby, I did find it useful to work fast, but then I stalled out and didn't get back to it. I plan to now, though.

  94. Thank you, Debby, very interesting post! I just finished my first book (took nearly a year) and I have so much to learn. So glad to have found Seekerville!

    I've recently read "The Officer's Secret" and "The Captain's Mission" and loved them! Please enter me in the drawing for Person of Interest.

  95. Oh, very interesting. I love the timer idea. I'm supposed to change positions a lot and I keep forgetting and then I'm twisted up like a pretzel. A cheery brrrrrinnng would be a great nudge.

  96. Hi Debby,
    I can hear your voice as I read your post. :) I am in dire need of getting back to basics and pushing myself. This post is a good kick-starter. Thank you for the link to Fast Draft. That might be an avenue for me, too. And thank you for the daily FB posts. They have become worship moments for me. Hugs and love!

  97. Debby, I read this post just after midnight and I've been trying to find time ever since to come back and comment.

    I identify with so much of your experience (though I'm not sure I could ever write 25 pages in one day!)

    I find that when I write consistently and fast, I fall into a zone in the story that I never achieve if I'm editing as I go. Once I'm in that zone, the story all starts to fall together and then I can write even faster.

    Deadlines can be great incentives that way!

  98. Hi Debby. Great post! Love it. Start what's necessary! I'm taking your timer idea and using at my desk. When I'm working, I usually get all in and forget to drink some H2O, stretch or take a breather. Thanks! Person of Interest sure sounds interesting. Happy Thanksgiving!

  99. Hi Debby. Great post! Love it. Start what's necessary! I'm taking your timer idea and using at my desk. When I'm working, I usually get all in and forget to drink some H2O, stretch or take a breather. Thanks! Person of Interest sure sounds interesting. Happy Thanksgiving!

  100. Hi Debby! Congrats on getting your book done. I took some other Candace Havens workshops, which were good, but somehow never the Fast Draft. Still this idea keeps popping up. I recently downloaded the boom, How To Write A Novella in 24 Hrs, which as you can imagine, also puts forth the idea of write forward, edit later. It's working for me.

  101. Hi Debby! Congrats on getting your book done. I took some other Candace Havens workshops, which were good, but somehow never the Fast Draft. Still this idea keeps popping up. I recently downloaded the boom, How To Write A Novella in 24 Hrs, which as you can imagine, also puts forth the idea of write forward, edit later. It's working for me.

  102. Chill N...

    Thanks for your sweet words about the readers being the winners!

    You've touched my heart!

    Glad you liked the pics and quotes too!


  103. Vince, we are praying for you! I'm praying extra hard...whether you side with Plato or Aristotle or Augustine. And I love Aquinas! Let us know how your revisions end up! We're cheering you on!

  104. Sandy,

    It's okay to stall, as long as you eventually continue on! Cheering you on!


  105. Laura, so glad you enjoyed my stories! Your kind words touched my heart!

    Congrats on completing your first manuscript! YAY! Hope you're proud of your accomplishment, which is huge. Not many folks write a book.

    We're proud of you in Seekerville. Be sure to stop by often and let us know how your work is progressing.


    PS: You're in the drawing!

  106. Kav, after sitting for six hours at my computer while editing, I felt twisted like a pretzel too! :)

    Yes, you need a timer!

    How's your healing/recovery? Praying you back to good health!


  107. Lyndee, you're so close. Don't get discouraged. It's always hardest when the first sale is just around the corner, sometimes only a breath away.

    I need to increase my prayer coverage for you...which I'm doing right now!


    Thanks for your mention of my FB posts. You know I need encouragement. Sometimes it seems I'm following my own need, instead of what He tells me to do. Your affirmation lets me know that I'm hearing correctly.

    Hugs and love, always!

  108. Mary Cate, glad you mentioned the ZONE!!! So true. It's getting into the story. Editing disrupts that connection. Thanks for affirming what I feel as well.

    Yes, deadlines spur us on! I need them. Otherwise, I'd spend a lifetime on the first three chapters. :)

  109. Just Commonly,

    Don't forget to drink lots of water when you work. Sitting at a computer dries us out, for whatever reason. Also remember to exercise. I went to the gym almost every day when I was working on Fast Draft. After all those hours at the computer, I needed to move!

  110. Patricia, you've hooked me! A novel in 24 hours? Oh my gosh. I need more info. Could that be possible?

    My hands are aching just thinking about all those key strokes!

  111. Hi Debby. This. Just this. Wow. I was just saying that I felt I needed to really push myself to increase my productivity. And then to read about the fast draft and St. Francis all in one post? I'm sold! I will be learning more!

    I would love to be put in for the drawing... I have been shipping books to my mom. Turning her into an LIS fan!

  112. OH, WOW, DEBBY, I am soooooooo impressed!!! And talk about inspirational -- you've got me itching to do what you did, girlfriend, but it does scare me a little. :|

    TINA SAID: "Oh my goodness. If I could just get over the editing as I write. This has given me much to ponder. I envy writers who have a set way to produce. Every book is different for me. It always depends on how much the book pulls from me emotionally. Some are easier to write than others."

    Tina, I SO agree with you! I, too, envy drivers who produce a novel in a month because honestly, that is the key to success, in my opinion. But like you, every book is different for me as well, depending upon how emotionally vested I am. For instance, I wrote an almost 500-page book -- A Passion Redeemed -- in one month, and it was that book that coined my daughter's phrase of "Mom's in the zombie zone" because I literally wrote day and night, sometimes all night till 5:00 AM because the story had me by the throat. Hasn't happened since, which is too bad because I'd have a heck of a lot of books by now ... ;)

    GREAT POST, Deb, and VERY inspiring!!


  113. I attended that workshop (or half of it as I was pitching during the other half). I need to make it a book in two months, as there's no way I'll be able to work a schedule with six hours a day of editing. :-)

  114. Fantastic post. One of the best I've read generally speaking in a long time. So inspirational to me as I do tend to get bogged down. Thanks again. Must follow you.

  115. Debby,

    So sorry I'm late posting - but your blog was excellent. Such great tips for when we get bogged down. I'll be using these tips very soon - like this weekend!