For the past 4 weeks I’ve been participating in an online class hosted by Candace Havens. The complete information about the class is as follows:

It’s the New Year, and you’ve made your goals. You want to finish that book fast and we can help you do that. In fact, we can help you have it ready to send out to publishers in one month. Whether you are starting from scratch, or you need to revise your NaNoWriMo chaos, Candace Havens has you covered. Fast Draft is a process in which you’ll finish your book in two weeks or less. Using psychological techniques, Candace will show you how to tap into the part of your brain that stimulates creativity so you can write, write, write! Following Fast Draft, Candace will teach Revision Hell. You will learn to take that jumbled first draft and make it shine. Soon, you’ll be ready to submit your work to agents and editors. Gather your friends and join in for the fun. It’s a two-hour daily commitment that will change the way you look at writing. Everything takes place online, so you’ll be able to download your notes and work when it’s most convenient for you. Give yourself the gift of a finished novel and start on the road to publishing success.
Cost is $35.

Now I suppose that I should have been skeptical from the start. The above is the sum total of information I could find about the class, aside from the rave reviews of previous participants.

Let me be clear. This was not a class. This was a group, hosted on Yahoo groups wherein Candy left her students two files, one for the Fast Draft portion of the class and one for the Revision Hell section. A few times a week she posted what amounted to a pep talk which repeated the core phrases; “Don’t give up. There are no excuses. If I can do it, you can do it. Get those pages done.”

*sigh*

I would prefer to get back to writing, but I feel it’s my responsibility at this point to keep other unsuspecting writers from throwing their hard earned money at this trash. There are no refunds by the way.

The secrets to writing are:

  • Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.
  • No negativity allowed.
  • Ignore your internal editor
  • Tell you’re friends and family that you’re busy.
  • Decide if you’re a pantser or plotter and prep as you see fit.
  • Believe that the words will come.
  • Stay in touch with other participants for accountability.

If you’ve ever tried Nanowrimo, or read any of the material they feature on their website you will recognize these as the exact same tips and tricks for completing National Novel Writing Month. In fact if you’re at all interested in writing for fun or to complete a draft, I highly recommend participating in Nanowrimo. You should also purchase their companion book, No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty who wrote an entire novel to help writers find their inner voice using the same tips above but with humor. It also helps that he at least has a soul. You can buy No Plot, No Problem for about 11 dollars on Amazon with 176 pages of pep talks, advice, and helpful tips for the budding writer. Versus less than 25 pages of “notes” which consist of the above, along with personal stories about how her life is super busy, but she can do it so you can too.

The Fast Draft class consists of the above advice and two rules.

Rule 1: Write 20 pages a day. 1 page equals 250 words. So you should write 5,000 words a day. Bam. (That’s it people, that is how you write a novel. Just do it. *eyeroll*)

Rule 2: Post your pages to the yahoo group so everyone can ooh and aah.

In the same vein, the Revision Hell class consists of the same daily posting advice, and the rule that you will edit 20 pages a day. The editing advice, consists of:

  • Remove boring-nice dialogue.
  • Remove cliches.
  • Have believable tension.
  • Include at least three of the five sense in each scene.
  • Have each chapter/section begin and end with a hook.

If you think that’s worth 35 $ than by all means, go right ahead. But to me it’s bullshit. She provide her “students” with a list of advice commonly found in every article on writing that I’ve ever seen, except that it wasn’t even personal, to her or us. You could leave her a message on the boards but there were no individual sessions to discuss concerns or your work. Worse even was the fact that her materials are boring, and poorly written.

I recommend this class to no one. Don’t be swindled.

Please try to stay positive about whatever you’re working on. If you feel like you need a pep talk or you are floundering through your creative journeys do yourself a favor and watch Neil Gaiman’s speech, Make Good Art. It’s beautiful, rewarding, and incredibly motivating.

Happy Scribbling Folks.

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