The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery (Hi Lee!), and Rachna Chhabria
And the question posed for June is: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?
The answer has a lot to do with this EXTREMELY ACCURATE gif depicting an author’s thought process:
A more verbose answer would be, I shelve it for as long as feels right. It sits until the spirits of my ancestors whisper gently, ‘Enough. Enough, my child. It is ready. And, honey, would it kill you to wash the—right, right. Sorry. Spiritual guidance.‘ The spirits of my forbearers aren’t all that helpful.
When I’m writing a book I’m absorbed in the story. Eating it, breathing it, having dreams about it, nitpicking belief systems and slang to myself, coming up with witty repartee in the shower. Total immersion. After writing ‘the end’ I have to step out for a while if I’m going to have any hope of editing with objectivity. As a more serious answer to this month’s question, the uncoupling process usually takes a few weeks. Possibly a month.
But I’ve also learned through experience that I can’t let it sit too long before edits start. I need balance between taking a break to let the story settle in my mind and losing all pretense of forward momentum. One end of the spectrum is helpful, while the other leads to SE, lost and meandering uselessly through thickets of internet research and Pinterest boards for the next story (and, yes, okay, fine, TikTok videos as well SOCIAL MEDIA HOW I LOVE AND HATE YOU). So a few weeks are about right.
As a bonus, those weeks I’m shelving the story are also useful because I’ve sent the finished manuscript to my beta readers and I’m waiting for them to have time to read the story and send me their critiques. Around the time my first reader’s thoughts are coming in, I’m ready to dive back into my book and start hacking bits off. It’s not pretty. The Axe of Editing can be cruel. So a little time before wielding it is necessary for me to eventually handle the pain.
Hi, I completely understand the eating and breathing the manuscript, that’s my level of absorption too.
It’s not just me! Yay! Thank you for stopping by 🙂
You’ve got a great technique for yourself in creating and revising your work. Bravo! I’m still trying to obtain those precious beta readers for my longer work. Thanks so much for sharing your insight with your followers. Have a beautiful weekend!
Beta readers are indeed precious! I hope you’re able to find some you love to work with 🙂
The spirits of my forebearers would like to know if I’m done with this writing nonsense, now. They’re highly critical. (Obviously, I put up wreaths of garlic to keep them out of my workspace.) I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s impatient to get on with the revising!
Ha! Guess who will be buying a garlic wreath and maybe scattering some salt around my workspace thanks to your brilliant idea. Obvs I need their criticism when it comes to spring cleaning but they will have to stay out of the writing now. This is a good idea. Maybe even better than emergency otters.
Funny, I don’t mind breaking the bond with the work. It’s part of the test to see if it should be published. If I reconnect then I know that I did okay. If I can’t, the story needs to be rebuilt or tossed.
We are all different though, aren’t we? 😉
<a href=”http://emaginette.wordpress.com”> Anna from elements of emaginette</a>
Very fair! If I drop out of the story and get bored trying to get back into it….yeah. Readers will undoubtedly be bored as well.
OMG! The spirits of my forbearers are constantly annoying me, as well! I wouldn’t mind so much if they’d make themselves useful and fill in a plot hole or fix a sagging middle. But no, it’s always some admonition.
I get immersed, as well. Which is really interesting, because my current project is set in the mid-1800s. A totally different way of life and thinking. And yet, I love it!
If we couldn’t disappear into completely fictional worlds in a very nonfictional way we wouldn’t be readers, or writers. Odd? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it more as a superpower 🙂
Sounds well thought out. I get bored if I’m not writing so that whole waiting thing–it’s a challenge.
I admit there’s always another inspiration waiting impatiently in the wings when I try to focus on one story. Usually the breaks are when I’ll pick up something short, for fun and to palate cleanse a bit before jumping back in 🙂
I like that–palate cleanse! That is so true.
I used to be like you, when I worked part time and had more time to write. I’m so beaten down by life and work demands now, I have trouble even getting the motivation to sit down at the keyboard. Hope than changes soon. Thanks for visiting my blog last month.
I hope it changes soon too! Last year was a singularly unmotivating year for us all, I think. Best wishes as you continue writing!
I agree that it’s a good idea to take a break before revising so you can be more objective. Also getting the advice of beta readers can help.
All good things 🙂
One of your comments made me wonder something… where does the “first” draft end? You mention taking a break to send it to beta readers, but my first drafts are usually so rough, a beta reader is not going to make heads or tails of it. I HAVE to revise and edit somewhat in order for anyone to be able to read it. So do I take a break after that “first” draft? Or after the first READABLE draft?
This is a good point. I suppose here is the place to admit that I’m one of those weird writers who absolutely must read back through previous chapters before starting the next one, so I’m a) incredibly slow and b) constantly lightly editing as I go. My first drafts take months and are really more like ’15 drafts without a break’ than a proper word vomit first draft. So they’re pretty much readable by the end of it. I know this goes against all writing advice, ever, but it’s just how my brain works.
I agree with your idea, that after the first ‘readable’ draft is the time to shelve and let the project rest.
That’s a smart way to time it – with critique partner feedback.
I have to make up for being such an abysmally slow writer in some way, so I fit in efficiency wherever I can.