Friday, May 25, 2012

Fast Writer: Candace Havens

I have another fast writer for you...Candace Havens!
She writes for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Berkley and Entangled Publishing. You would have probably seen the post below where I shared that I was about to take Candy's Fast Draft class. It's amazing! Candy hosts it several times a year and if you are vaguely considering it, I urge you to seriously consider it!

I hope Candy doesn't mind me telling you this, but she recently wrote a book in FOUR AND A HALF days!!! AND got it accepted before she edited it. Is that cool or what?

We like Candy, she's cool beanz ;D Here is her interview.

MONIQUE: Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed for my Fast Writers blog series, Candy. First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

CANDY: I write whenever I can. I usually break the day up into non-fiction writing for my day job as a film and TV critic and I write my books later in the day or at night. But I’m never stuck with one way of doing things. I mix it up all the time. 

MONIQUE: What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser? 

CANDY: I have to write a brief synopsis for my publishers, but for the most part I’m a pantser. I never stick to those synopses.

MONIQUE: Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it?

CANDY: The class I teach is called Fast Draft. It’s a process where you write your first draft in two weeks. People think it’s impossible, but it isn’t. I have certain rules and tools that help you psychologically get into almost a state of hypnosis to write. Your subconscious is a much better writer than you are and that’s what we delve into.

MONIQUE: Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?

CANDY: I have a crazy life. I’m a film and tv critic and a radio personality. I write three columns/cover stories a week for the TV job. I’m the president of the TV Critics Association. I have kids, who are older now, but were young when I started. I had to write fast or it was never going to get done. I’ve revised the process over the year, but it works every time.

MONIQUE: How many words do you write per hr/writing session? 

CANDY: I try when I’m doing Fast Draft to write 20 pages a day. I sometimes break that up and do 10 pages early in the day and 10 pages at night. I can write between 1000-1700 words an hour. I do a lot of #1k1hr on Twitter, which is a great motivator. It’s just nice to have people going through the same thing you are.

MONIQUE: How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

CANDY: I honestly have no idea on the hours, but I write about six days a week, seven if I’m on a tight deadline, which happens a lot.

MONIQUE: How quickly can/do you finish a book?

CANDY: From first draft to polished book about a month if I have to. I like to let a book sit between first draft and that first set of revisions if I have time.

MONIQUE: Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)?

CANDY: I don’t plan that much. I just write the next scene I know. Sometimes that might be in chapter three, and sometimes it’s the last chapter. When I finish writing, I leave my self notes about what I just did and where I was thinking about going every time I finish a scene. That way when I pick it back up, I know where I want to go. The great thing about Fast Draft is your continuity is better because you eat, drink and sleep that book.

MONIQUE: How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

CANDY: This is the toughest part of writing for everyone. I tell people to send their internal editor on vacation. Maybe to Fiji or Alaska. Somewhere far away. You have to give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft and you have to write even when you don’t feel like it. I’ve found that when I write when I’m tired, the words are better. That’s because my subconscious takes over.

MONIQUE: Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

CANDY: The trick is being disciplined. There isn’t a job in the world where you can work for a few hours and then pick it up three weeks later and expect to be successful. Set your hours and goals for the week and stick to them.  

MONIQUE: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with us here today. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it?

CANDY: I have a new series debuting in October 2012. The first book is Iron Demon. It’s a southern steampunk. Professor Maisy Clark is a female version of Sherlock Holmes who hunts down paranormal creatures. She has a trusty sidekick, a Scotsman named Barnes. And there is a hot cowboy involved. Oh, and there is a hot U.S. Marshal involved with Maisy. And I have a new Blaze novella with Lori Wilde and Kathleen O’Reilly called “All I Want for Christmas…” and my story in that is “One Hot December Night.”
Thanks for letting me hang out. It was fun.

MONIQUE: It was fantastic having you here with us, Candy!

Author Bio:

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes.

Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. And she has a new southern steampunk series debuting October 2012 with Iron Demon. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards.

She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country.

Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association. Her book Model Marine is a 2012 National Readers Choice Finalist.

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  1. Great post! I'm currently Fast Drafting (thanks to Monique's post about it) and it's been wonderful. I also recommend it to anyone who is considering it.

    Here's my question for Candy---I've noticed that when I did Nanowrimo and now with FD I am having the most strange, but creative and interesting, dreams. They aren't related to my story, but I'll wake up and think "Wow, where did that come from?" Have you, or other Fast Drafter, had this same experience?

  2. This is something I struggle to do--write fast. I am determined to continue to do this. I Like the idea of setting goals and sticking to it.
    Thanks, I needed to read this today.

  3. Sue, that means your subconscious is taking over and it's a better writer than you are. And it happens all the time to Fast Drafters. :) That's a very good thing.

    M.V. You can do it! It's all about commitment and accountability. :)

  4. I've got to say I'm curious about Fast Draft. I will definitely give it a try at some point. I'm in edits for this go around, but will be starting a new wip this summer...maybe finishing it this summer, too, if I do the FD thing. Thanks for sharing, Candace, and I'll see you around the #Writingworkshop & #1k1hr.

  5. I am currently in Candy's FD class and it has been a wonderful experience. I wrote 189 pp in 10 working days. I totally believe what Candy said above is true: what other job can you expect to work at for a few hours a week, then put it down and come back weeks later and expect to be good at it? This makes perfect sense to me. Plus, the only way to give yourself a raise in this business is to dramatically increase your output of words. The biggest opportunity for that, for me, was in the first draft part of the process. Everyone who is serious about writing commercial fiction should give it a shot.

  6. Thank you so very much, Candy!

    And thank you everyone who dropped by the blog and commented.

    Hugs x

  7. On Fast Drafting ... I know it can be done because I just did it in Candy's class. FD is a life-changing experience. Thank you, Candy!!! And thanks, Monique, for posting a great interview!


  8. A little late but I took Candy's free version of fast draft a couple of years ago. I credit her with me completing NaNo in 2009. Unfortunately 2010 and 2011 I wasn't as lucky. It is amazing how many words you can write if you shut off the editor and write.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I greatly appreciate it! :) :)