Between Draft One and Two- What to do?

Putting distance between you and your first draft

You’ve finished draft one with the help of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. What you need now, is to look at what you’ve written with an objective and discerning eye and spot what needs fixing. Stephen King recommends that you spend at least six weeks away from your first draft once it’s complete. Yes. You must allow your novel to rest.  Like a big, juicy steak. And, like a steak that has been set aside to rest, when you return to your novel, it’ll look like a bloody mess. But don’t worry about that now. Don’t worry your little head about it. Try and strike that image from your mind.

I know you’ve just emerged from the warm, cosy cocoon of the first draft. You’re feeling good about yourself. You’re proud of what you’ve achieved, and you have every right to feel proud. I should allow you to bask in the warm glow of your success a bit longer, but it would be remiss of me not to advise you that (a) your novel is far from finished and (b) you are facing all manner of threats during the time you spend away from it. The worst threat of all is the icy spectre of self-doubt. The only thing that will keep you sane is keeping busy while your woeful prose is coagulating. Keep busy with learning and writing.

Writing?’ you cry ‘but I thought this was a break!’

It is a break. It’s a break from your book. This isn’t a ‘break’ break. This isn’t a Ross-from-Friends-style ‘break’ from writing. You’re not allowed to abandon writing altogether and fool around with origami or something. You’re not allowed to not write. In fact, if you want to be a writer, you’re never allowed to not write, ever again!

I recommend writing a few short stories during the resting period, and enter some competitions. I entered a writing competition with multiple stages and didn’t do too badly. It kept my self-doubt at bay by boosting my confidence and keeping my mind occupied.

Another thing you can be doing is studying the technical stuff, because you’re going to be doing a lot of editing in draft two. Don’t assume you’ve learned all the rules by osmosis. I’ve written three blog posts on books that I advise you to buy and read during this resting period to get you ready for draft # 2.

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My name is Catherine Day. After practising law for many years, I've decided to take the leap, leave law temporarily, and write the novel I've always wanted to write.

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