What's the fastest anyone has ever written a first draft?


Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2021
So about a year ago, I was off on the sick for three months(not down to the pandemic), and I found myself with plenty of free time and nothing to do so I decided to have a go at doing a totally fresh story I had some ideas set aside for. I found I was usually working from about midday till about 6-7pm so maybe up to 7 hours per day and managing to get about ten pages completed.

By the end of a month I had a first draft of about 90,000 words over 24 chapters, each about 10-14 pages long, which was amazing.

Then of course I started editing and redrafting which I found to be very tedious and took another month before I was happy to call it a second draft. I then put it away and started working on other things like some of my previous WIP's and found I managed to actually complete one of them into a first draft as well. As you can gather most of my WIPs don't get that far.

So, what I am wondering of course is how quickly has anyone manged to complete a first draft, and what did they think of it when they did complete it, and what was their experiences editing and redrafting it? For the most part I was finding I had repeated a lot of description and had to change some words so people weren't reading the same terms three times in even the shortest paragraph. And I did find myself moving around some paragraphs to different parts of the same chapter where they read better. But I did find the editing job tedious and sometimes fiddly.
Many many years ago I belonged to another SFF forum, long gone, with a mod who claimed to do insanely fast Nanowrimo (50k) drafts - I'm sure she got to doing it in about a day. I think this could potentially possible if it was outlined in extreme detail, but that it would also be physically hard to write so much in a day.

In comparison, three days (as above) sounds very plausible!
Didn't Bradbury write Fahrenheit 451 in something like a week or nine days (maybe it was the Roman week)?

I think my fastest first draft was somewhere around 18 months. <g>
Didn't Bradbury write Fahrenheit 451 in something like a week or nine days (maybe it was the Roman week)?
Roughly nine days total, but, thanks to Ray Bradbury, we can actually get the total amount of writing time spent on the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 - specifically because Bradbury wrote the first draft on typewriters in the UCLA library basement that could be rented at the rate of one dime for a half hour.

In "Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451," he says, "In the spring of 1950 it cost me nine dollars and eighty cents to write and finish the first draft of The Fire Man, which later became Fahrenheit 451." $9.80 at $0.10 per half hour puts the writing time at 49 hours to produce (in his estimation) a 25,000 word first draft (not necessarily the length of what you'd call a novel in itself, but still a first draft of something that later became a novel). Of course, this doesn't take into account any time spent fixing typewriter jams.
"On the road" by Jack Kerouac took 20 days (also fuelled medically), written on a 120 foot long scroll to avoid having to change paper sheets.
I wrote the first 70,000 words of Mayhem in a long weekend - it kind of broke my brain and it was a few weeks before I wrote again.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) happens every year during the month of November. Hundreds of thousands of people all attempting to write 50,000 words in one month at the same time. The NaNoWriMo forum is a great place to hang out, get tips and ideas, etc etc.
A few years ago I was a regular there, and there was a woman who every year managed to pass 50,000 words in one day.
She told us she plans has a fast typing speed, hardly needs any sleep, knows what she wants to say, and has plenty of free time in November.
So I’m guessing she is the fastest writer of a first draft (especially since often she continues way past the 50k target during that month)

And for anyone interested, here are all the NaNoWriMo threads on Chrons:

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