Milestone Party: How to Survive Fast Draft and Dance Like No One’s Watching


Helloooo Out There!  Come one, come all; we’re having a party today!  Most of you know that about a year ago Marcia Richards and I founded the organization called The Life List Club.

What is the Life List Club?

A bunch of us writers got together to create our life lists – those things you want to do in life and never manage to complete.  We spent many months touring around each others’ blogs guest posting and getting to know our readers.  As the group adapted, we created our own blogsite, The Life List Club!  If you haven’t followed us, what are you waiting for?!  Click on over and sign up!

In short, you can get involved in the Life List Club in two ways:  as a Reader or as a Writer.  Anyone and everyone should be a reader.  As readers we encourage you to create your own life list of those “to do’s” that are lingering around or big dreams you’ve put on hold too long.  Your goals are anything that is right for you.  Post your life list on your blog, and share with us via comments and tweets how you’re doing!  You can cyber hang with us at the hashtag #LifeListClub.  Enjoy weekly posts filled with true stories, inspiration, and humor to boot to keep you motivated on your goals.

Hey Writers out there!  You can get involved by becoming a contributing writer for the LLC blog!  We’re currently accepting new writers to our rotation of posting and would love to hear from you!  E-mail me at jessi(DOT)witkins(AT)gmail(DOT)com if interested!  You don’t have to blog about writing.  We’re looking for a variety of goals to be covered so our readers can find multiple avenues of inspiration.

Here’s What We’re Celebrating Today!

Since launching the LLC blog, 3 months have gone by and we always have a Milestone party to celebrate the learning lessons and achievements along the way.  You can check out how all the Life Listers did by reading and entering our sweet giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card


Cue the Party Music!  

This is my new favorite song!  Why?  Because it involves splices of Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia from Dirty Dancing!  Duh!!!

My Goals:

  • Write Everyday.
  • Read 2 books a month.
  • Save money.
  • Work out at least once a week.

The Recap:

Write Everyday.

There were definitely days where only my minimum 5 things in the gratitude journal got written down.  Examples from the past few months include:  reading a good book, meeting bloggers I follow at the DFW Writers Conference, Joe cooking dinner, Bellavitano cheese, iced tea, leaving work on time, hammocks.  What really kicked my butt into gear on this goal was attending the DFW Writers Conference.  I decided to give Candace Havens’ Fast Draft a try.  Fast Draft is the idea that you complete your first draft of a novel in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.

Now before your eyes bug out of your head, know thatI hadto adapt this goal.  On day 1, I did get 20 pages written.  But once I was back at work, it was too difficult to get to 20.  I set a minimum of 10.  Ten pages was exactly ten pages more than I’d been writing everyday.  And this process takes a lot of planning!  I spent the whole week before blogging ahead, reading books, and getting emails sent out so I could focus on my writing.

Then week 2 of Fast Draft came around and I had a really difficult time.  I was having arguments with my boyfriend.  I was trying to assist planning 2 weddings/bachelorette parties/getting dress fittings for the upcoming marriages of my two best friends.  My sister underwent surgery for her third recurrence of cancer and was recovering.  We had company stay at our house.  The cupboards were getting bare.  And I was up until somewhere between 1 – 4 a.m. every night?  morning?  I’ve lost track.

It wasn’t my week.  Still, I always got some writing done!  The least amount was one page, and the most on those awful days was eight.  But that’s one more page or eight more pages closer to the “The End.”  Despite all that happened, I’m proud and relieved I’ve completed this challenge.  It taught me what’s important to me.  What I’m willing and not willing to give up, and it showed me who truly supports me in this journey and who doesn’t.  I would like to give Fast Draft another go for the next round of LLC goals.

Read 2 books a month.


Right now I think I have 7 books going at once.  I’ve had to postpone a few in order to complete others.  Books read just this month:  Back to Madeline Island by Jay Gilbertson, Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James, and Red by Kait Nolan.  I also coordinated an author interview with Jay, and have one next week with Kait!

I’m currently on track to complete my TBR Pile Challenge book Blessings by Anna Quindlen this month, as well as my first Janet Evanovich book, Three to Get Deadly, and the final book in the Fifty Shades series, Fifty Shades Freed.

Looking for more book reviews?  Check out my Bookshelf!

Save money.

Believe it or not, folks, I made myself a sticker chart to save!  And it helped!  I was able to budget better and reward myself for not buying more clothes or jewelry, etc. and had enough funds to travel to South Korea and to Texas for the writers conference.  Next trip I’m saving for is Joe’s and my road trip out west in August!

I still need to visit with a personal banker yet and look into some better savings options at the bank and read Suze Orman’s Women and Money book.

Work out at least once a week. 

This goal was a bit hit or miss.  I dove back into working out and did so many weighted lunges around the gym floor that I spent a good 3 days walking around like an old pregnant woman!  I was literally hobbling and could barely get in and out of my car.  I did start up at the gym again, weight training, using the elliptical and stationary bike.  Even if I didn’t make it to the gym, I would have a dance party in my room – just to move around!

I did improve my diet.  For several weeks I limited the amounts of red meat and cheese in my diet (mostly cause my boyfriend is doing that on his diet), but I also tried several great recipes from Self magazine.  I found 2 awesome breakfasts, and made two different chicken curry dishes.  I’ve been better about packing my lunches again and eating salads or peanut butter and jelly.  For breakfast on the go, I invested in some nut mixes to get protein in my system.  I cannot agree to switch to Almond Milk.  I still prefer cow’s milk!  LOL.


There’s my Life List recap!  Be sure to enter for all the great Life List Club milestone prizes by visiting our blogs!  You can find us all in the blogroll on the right.  And to enter for the $50 Amazon Gift Card, you’ve gotta get to the Life List Club blog!

But first, enter here!  Win an additional $10 I-Tunes Gift Card by subscribing to the Happiness Project and leaving me a comment about a learning moment or success story from your own life list!  I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

27 responses

  1. Great job on the past year, Jess. I’m glad you survived the FastDraft trials, such a trooper! I mentioned over on Marcia’s that I’m glad to have you both as friends and wish I’d been able to stay a part of LLC, but life is just like that at times. All the same, you are both very special women in more ways than can be counted and I’m honored to know you 🙂

    All the best for the coming year, both in LLC and without. Your strength and tenacity is an inspiration with impact beyond what you can imagine.

    1. Thanks for not mentioning my balance or coordination in my list of mad skillz. 😛

      Gene, Thank You for always being a motivator and precise in your work ethic and plans. You inspire us all! How’s your own life list going?

      1. My life list, well, oddly I hadn’t paid much attention to it until today but seeing all your posts I had to go look. Turns out I accomplished everything on it except for the “being published by” item and that one is in progress. So, in the end, LLC has been riding along in the back of my head the whole time making sure things got done. Which is uber cool!

        And – you have so many positive mad skillz Jess that the others just fade into the mist 🙂

  2. Good for you, Jess! I just have to finish my last two chapters and I’ll be done with draft 1. But mine is the Slow Draft. Holy hell. All those interruptions really make writing difficult, and for a while, like you, I was staying up until 4 am.

    And then I got sick. And I realized that was not a sustainable schedule for me.

    I should be back to it starting tonight. I’m ready to go.

    I’m reading 50 Shades for my book club, and I’ve been circling all the “What-Not-To-Do” things. I don’t care if it is a best seller. It’s still not great writing. But it gives me hope that maybe my stuff might find a place in the world. Maybe.

    Congrats on making many of your goals. Keep saving!

    1. I don’t doubt you got sick. It’s physically too much to do consistently like that. And then you’re so drained you either write what you think is awarding winning prose or complete and utter crap! LOL.

      So proud of you for cramming away at Manny the manuscript. I can’t wait to read it! You should be so proud of all you’ve accomplished!

      I love that you’re circling the writing “what no to do’s” on Fifty Shades. I told my book club about it and they were pretty sure they didn’t want to read it. I hated the first book. I’m not sure I believe the third, but I’ll finish it. Want to have my own opinion on it, you know? Expect a blog blast about it between Marcia and I soon!

  3. […] Jess Witkins claimed the title Perseverance Expert not long after she began blogging.  But those words were put to the test when she took on the goal that was giving her most trouble square in the face!  After a grueling 2 weeks that caused relationship problems, friendship concerns, family phone calls, a terrible diet, and less sleep than anyone should be operating vehicles under, Jess Witkins completed Fast Draft. […]

  4. Jess, you are a young woman on the move! I’m placing a big gold star sticker on this blog post for your organization and dedication to that impressive list of goals. Reality checks are all part of the process, right? I particularly like how you are able to step back and recognize when the load gets a tad heavy. Happy 4th of July!

    1. Where was it heavy? What are you talking about? 😉

      LOL. That’s why having the author interviews with you and Jay during Fast Draft was so much fun!!! You guys gave me an outlet to chat and mingle again with my writer peeps. Thanks, Patricia!

  5. Jess, you’re the best partner ever and a great inspiration for the LLC! You accomplish more than I would with your life schedule. I know how much you’ve wanted to have the money to do some traveling, so I’m impressed at how well you did with saving money. And the Fast Draft challenge–omg! You’re a machine! I would love to get 10 pages a day written! Actually right now I HAVE TO! Looking forward to another amazing year with you, little buddy! Hugs!

    1. Thanks for the fan mail, Marcia, I’m blushing! I’ve definitely got the travel bug again and can’t wait until Joe and I hit the road! I’m sure there’ll be adventures to blog about! Best of luck with cranking out those pages; I know you can do it! Cheers to another year!

  6. Jess, I am in awe of anyone who can do Fast Draft. Like Reneé, I’m specializing in the Slow Draft. I’ve been looking at my Life List every month, and with baby steps, I’m getting there. Thank you and Marcia and all the great writers you have in the Club for helping me dream and work toward my dream. 🙂

    1. I think that’s such a sweet compliment! Thank you Elizabeth! Nothing wrong with the slow draft process. I’m just better off with boot camp sometimes than baby steps and Fast Draft sure kicked my rear in gear. But you saw it’s hard to sustain. I’ll be slow drafting it now too for a bit while summer craziness ensues. Keep writing! That’s what counts!

  7. Go you! I love that you made a money-saving sticker chart. And there’s nothing wrong with low/reduced-fat cow’s milk if you enjoy and digest it well. 🙂 WOOT WOOT! LOVE those dance parties! Keep up the awesome work, Jess. Congrats to all of you LLC members!

    1. Oh August, when are you going to join the ranks and be a contributor??? We can have more dance parties! And you can be our lead nutritionist! Cause you know I cheat all the time. LOL

  8. I am super-impressed you tried Fast Draft, and it sounds to me like you did a great job, all things considered! I’m also with you on cow’s milk. There is no substitute. 🙂

    1. Woohoo! Another fan of plain milk! I don’t dislike almond milk, but it is not the same! Hahaha

  9. Great video, Jess! And I think I’m going to have to print out the kitten photo for my daughter 🙂

    I had no idea you were trying to cram so much in around your fast draft – I feel bad that I had it so easy.

    I’m glad that you’re going to read Suze Orman’s book, she has lots of great advice.


    1. Don’t feel bad! You have to take advantage of the times when life grants you some peace and quiet to write ahead.

      You should totally print that photo for your daughter! And blow it up! Better yet paint an entire mural on her wall.

  10. I remember my 25k-word week, and it was a killer. I don’t know if I want to do that very often. But I would love to have some 10k-word weeks! I think it would be doable for me.

    Loved that song! Mickey & Sylvia are awesome.

    Great report on your progress! I love the idea of the Life List Club also. Best wishes.

    1. Dirty Dancing marathon!!! We can watch 1 and 2 and then Dance With Me starring Chayanne and Vanessa Williams.

      Amazing job with your writing, Julie!

  11. Hi Jess, it felt like you were always doing well with fast draft — I was more on the loop, less on twitter! But, I so agree, everyday I wrote and in the end everyday I wrote more than before fast draft. I’ve read a few blogs on the Life List Club (awesome concept) and was inspired by them, so kudos!

    1. Thank you Amy! I kept trying to get on the loop but it wasn’t accepting my subscription or something. Phooey! I missed you guys. Hence I trolled around on twitter to hear how everyone was doing.

      AND might you be interested in being a contributing writer for the Life List Club?

  12. I recognize that song from Men In Black 3. Not my kind of music, but I’ll admit it’s pretty catchy. Happy anniversary to the Life List Club!

    1. Um, why don’t you recommend it from Dirty Dancing?

      1. I don’t remember it in that movie so much (I know, blashphemy!)…I do recall it was in Stand By Me, though!

  13. Congrats on improving your diet, Jess! One of the toughest tasks in eating well is food preparation – packing lunches. You go, girl! 🙂

    1. Got any good recipes for me? Always looking to try new stuff!

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