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!
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.