Tag Archives: Fast Draft

ROWdate: Where Did All My Summer Go?

I don’t know where this week slipped away to!  I suppose I’ll attack my goals this week like some people recommend ripping off band-aids.  Just do it!


No progress on the WIP.  The only writing I got done was some journaling on my trip (before I forgot it all), three handwritten letters for fun – something I used to do all the time, and preparation of a few blog posts ahead.

What I Did Accomplish:

-Again, I’m announcing the super fun new project that Marcia Richards and I are conspiring on.  It’s called The Redhots, and it consists of two redheads (us) sharing our opinions on everything we think is HOT or NOT!  Tune in this Friday for the first ever episode where Marcia and I discuss the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy.  Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!

-Also, I joined up with five other fabulous writers for an online book club called Great New Books, which is really getting an awesome response from readers so far, so thank you!  Our final days of the August book club pick, The River Witch, is happening now.  Tune in for September’s read, and please share your recommendations with us as well!

-Something else to look forward to:  More Author Interviews!  I’ve been busy reading and preparing interviews and blogs for two writers currently, so soon to be on the way – Michael Perry and Timothy McKinney.

Reading – In the last week, I completed The Devil Colony by DFW Writers Conference Keynote Speaker and NYTBS Author, James Rollins!  Loved this one as it takes place around Salt Lake City, Utah and Yellowstone!  Just started A Cook’s Tour by Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain!

-Writing Plan:  Just today the fabulously funny and intelligent Nigel Blackwell suggested another round of Fast DraftWhile I cannot commit to the full two weeks (being that I work in retail and we’re already planning for Christmas!), I will commit to Fast Drafting practices on the days that I have off to boost the non-existing word count of the present.  Thank you Nigel for the kick in the pants!

That’s what I’m up to!  How about you?  Did the week slip away from you too?  Did you make great progress?  What upcoming events or projects are you excited about?

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!

#ROW80: The Final Countdown

Well, it’s the final check in for Round 2 of ROW80!  I think some mood music is in order!

You’re right, it probably is too early for that.  Oh well.

I also need to announce the winner of Patricia Sands’ e-book copy of The Bridge Club:  Diana Murdock

Congratulations, Diana!!!

Having joined up with ROW80 at the end of this round, I don’t have any momentous meaning of life stories for you, but it was great getting my butt in gear and back on track with writing.


  • Blessings Over Gratitude
  • Blog Ahead
  • Fast Draft
  • Read 2 books a month
  1. Blessings:  I’ll admit, I wasn’t very good with this one this week.  I’ve had some schedule interferences and meltdowns this week so mostly I focused on why my life was so miserable and justified all my crabbiness.  This goal is going to stay in for Round 3!
  2. Blog Ahead: I still have one blog ready to go, but with incorporating the Featured Writers Series, that was more of an ongoing project.  It’s been a really rewarding one having had CJ West, Patricia Sands, and now Wisconsin Writer Jay Gilbertson all guest on my blog!  And guess what team?!  I talked Kait into doing it too!!!  Yay!
  3. Fast Draft: A little more like Slow Draft for me this week, but I am still writing.  I’m not hitting my page count due to schedule glitches, but I’m still almost 80 pages more than I had when I started, so I must remember to not beat myself up too hard.
  4. Read 2 books a month: Let’s just say, I better get crackin.  All my writing last week, I kept falling asleep after reading only a few pages.  Gotta get some reading in there soon!

There’s my final update for Round 2!  How are you doing?  I’m looking forward to getting to know you all more for Round 3 as I’ll be a sponsor!  Scary, I know.  

#ROW80: My Writers Clock is Ticking


So all I do now is work, write, eat veggie chips, and feign a few hours of sleep each night.   I am immersed in Fast Draft and it’s all I have time for.  But, it’s for 2 weeks!  And I can do anything for 2 weeks!

I’m also two weeks into ROW80.  Seems to be my lucky number!  Here are my ROW Goals.

  • Blessings vs. Gratitude Challenge  For the month of June, I want to journal about the blessings in my life rather than just things I’m grateful for.  I’ve been blessed by some great experiences and introductions lately, so I’m hoping by focusing on the positive in my life I can learn to better handle the negative.
  • Fast Draft!  Fast Draft is a process I learned about from Candace Havens at the DFW Conference, and it is set about to help you write a first draft in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.
  • Still blog ahead.  Blogging ahead helps me to focus on my WIP now.  I was able to get some posts prepped in my first week, and now I’m busy connecting and completing several guest posts for my new Tuesday Featured Writers series.
  • Read 2 books a month.  I have too many books going at once right now!  I’m currently focusing on the Fifty Shades series (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post) and on These Things Hidden, which is a selection for my book club.

So what have I accomplished?

I’ve definitely been thinking about blessings and I’ve shared some of them with my book club and my parents, but I haven’t been journaling about them yet.  I do want to get back into that.  I know I’m thinking differently, but I want to record that because I think it’s important to know when you’re learning something new.


Blog ahead.  I have some reviews backlogged for rainy writing days, but I’m so excited about my new Tuesday series featuring writers!  Thriller writer CJ West kicked us off, and in case you missed her, women’s writer Patricia Sands joined me yesterday!  Next week I’m thrilled to host a WISCONSIN writer!  And the series will finale with a New York Times Bestselling Author!  But I’m not saying who.  😉  You’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m getting back into gear with my reading which is another reason I’m not sleeping.  The other night I was up until 4 am reading the Fifty Shades series!

Don’t tell mom what I’m reading!!! (goldenbookwyrm.wordpress.com)

I’ve now fallen asleep and woken up with my kindle still in hand 3 out of 4 nights.  And once I woke up after dropping the kindle on my face!  I’ve been audio booking it in the mornings while I get ready for work.

And that brings me to Fast Draft.  My biological writers clock is ticking!  While attending my second writers conference, I knew I needed a change so I could finish a first draft already.  And that’s when Candace Havens walked into my life!

You can learn all about Fast Draft today in my contributing post at The Life List Club!  I shared #FastDraft:  How To Do It Successfully and What You Learn Along the Way.

How are your ROW goals going for you?  Does your writers clock need a new schedule?

I Met Kait Nolan, and Now I’m Joining ROW80

In truth, I had contemplated joining ROW80 before, but after meeting the WONDERFUL Kait Nolan in person at the DFW Writers Conference, I just had to sign up!

Kait is one of those people you meet and instantly love.  She is outgoing, funny, and genuine.  She takes time to get to know people and I watched her do this so well, that twice she met someone who worked or lived something one of her current characters does.  Now, she’s in contact with them for character research.

I think that says something about Kait.  She’s interested in people’s stories, and she recognizes that everyone’s is different.  Kait is the founder of A Round of Words in 80 Days, a goal setting system with weekly progress updates and a community of people who support you on your journey.

Besides being the ROW80 founder, she’s also a blogger, and self-published author extraordinaire.  I’m reading her newest book, Red, right now and it’s amazing!

Kait and I at the DFW Conference!

Needless to say, after listening to my goals and what had been my setbacks, Kait invited me to jump into ROW80 and get started.  I am so very grateful that she did.

My ROW Goals for This Week are:

  • (image courtesy amazon.com)

    Blog Ahead!  I’d like to have at least 5 blog posts written ahead to get me through the time I’ll be working on Fast Draft.

  • Clean my room.  As part of the preparation process for writing, I need to unearth the mound of transitional season clothing and other lost and found objects taking over my desk.
  • Plot my novel.  This doesn’t seem like a small feat, but I got some good workshopping done at DFW Con.  Need this done before I can write the book.
  • Finish reading Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island for my Book Club getaway to Madeline Island next week!

My Longterm ROW80 Goals:

  • Blessings over Gratitude.  I read this post by Ollin Morales and he got me thinking that my life could stand to use a little more positivity.  I’m going to spend time over the next month journaling about blessings rather than just things I’m grateful for.  Read Ollin’s post and you’ll see the difference.  I hope by doing this, I can empower my inner writer and tell my inner editor to go drink a bottle of herself!

(image courtesy: skaggymaggie.tumblr.com)

  • Fast Draft!  To get my butt in gear, I’m participating in Fast Draft.  It’s a workshop where you write 20 pages/day for 2 weeks.  I will attempt to get my first draft written during this time.
  • Still Prepare for Blog Posts.  I’m fortunate to have several writers interested in doing interviews with me, but that means I need to stay on track with their works, and prepare thought provoking questions for them.  CJ West is featured this week!  Stay tuned to see who’s next!
  • Read.  I’ve been reading a ton, but I’ve got about 7 books going at once now.  *crosses eyes* I want to get back to my TBR Pile Challenge list and add a craft book in there as well.  Thinking of starting with Story Engineering.

That’s my plan!  I’m sure it’ll evolve as I get started, but I’m getting excited as the date draws closer for Fast Draft to begin.  

How are your goals going this week?

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