Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Insecure Writers Support Group

 It's the first Wednesday in June, so it's time for the IWSG!  

The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month's question is also a good one: 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?

For me this depends on the book.  Sometimes I know what changes I want to make to a story almost as soon as I finish the draft, so I go ahead and make those before I forget what they are and just keep going because I'm on a roll and my head is firmly in that story's world.

Other times I've left books for years before going back to them.  Two years or more, even.  

The book I'm currently querying is one of these.  I wrote most of it during NaNo one year, then dropped it for some reason - maybe because I had a book releasing and needed to focus on that for a while - and came back to it about 18 months ago.  After so long without looking at it, I'd completely forgotten most of it and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

Unfortunately in that case, I hadn't written the ending and there were some quite large pieces missing.  It took me a ridiculously long time to actually finish it because I'd left it so long I could no longer remember what I'd intended.  These are the times I kind of wish I did at least a little outlining so I had a record of what I'd been thinking.

On average though, I'd say I leave my books between one and four months before going back to them.

My dream is to one day be able to write full time and work to a draft one, revise one, draft one, revise one schedule.  But that is not on the cards right now.  And I'm supposed to be revising one at the moment - my 2020 NaNo novel - which I left for four months without looking at because I was busy with the release of Chasing the Taillights

I think that was a good amount of time.  I already knew it was going to be a lot of work because I left myself notes while I was writing so I'd remember to look things up and fill in details I was unsure of in the drafting process.  And since reading through it, I now know there's even more stuff that needs fixing.  The pacing isn't quite right at the start, so I feel like I need to add a couple more chapters.  I also think my MCs need a few more friends around them to feel real.

Unfortunately revising never seems to get any easier.  On occasion I've worked chapter by chapter and revised thoroughly before moving on, but this isn't the best process for me.  I like to draft fast and get the whole story onto the page before I revise anything - even when I decide three chapters in that some major plot event I thought I was aiming for isn't the right one after all.

At the end of the day, whatever works best for you.  If you lose interest in a story if you leave it alone to too long, work out what the optimum length of time for leaving it is for you.  If you work better with a year or more to let it settle, make your schedule work with that.

But I'm interested in other processes.  How long do you usually leave something?


  1. I'd think how long you put something away for is usually dependent on whatever else is going on in your life, and it'd be like this for everyone. I wrote and edited one project in about six months, and then I started looking at one after putting it away for over a year. It's just life, right?

  2. Like many things in my life, I have paid zero attention to how long I've let a draft sit before diving back in, so I have no idea what the average time I let a draft sit.

  3. That's awesome that you picked up a manuscript you wrote during NaNo a few years ago and are now querying it. Good luck finding an agent and in your goal of righting full-time. FYI I offer query critique giveaways with literary agents on my blog. I feature ones in children's publishing but many also represent authors writing adult fiction. If you win, it might give you such helpful feedback on your query letter.