Draft One Is Done: Now What?

Hi everyone! My last post was dedicated to tips for writing a novel in 30 days, which I did from Sept 15-Oct 14. But after you’ve finished writing a first draft, you might think:

Now what?

First and foremost, I hope your answer is CELEBRATE. Completing a first draft, no matter how long it takes you, is a huge accomplishment. Celebrate that! You did it! You brought a book into existence! From! Your! Head! No matter what your goals for your story may be after that, I fully believe it’s worth celebrating the moments big and small. So enjoy it!

After the celebrating, I hope your next answer is rest. You’ve worked hard, dedicated yourself to writing, spent hours and hours in front of the computer to create your story.  Rest is important for several reasons. For one, there’s probably other parts of your life you may have put on the back burner so you could focus on writing (this was aaaaabsolutely me). 

The other is that you want to be able to go into revisions with fresh eyes, and if you’re exhausted and your creative well is running on fumes, you’re not going to be able to think as critically as you normally can. Writing is supposed to be something we enjoy and love doing, and no matter how much I love it, I don’t love much of anything when I’m exhausted.

How long should you rest after a first draft? Ultimately, that’s up to each person, but many writers have suggested a month.

For my newest book, I finished my first draft about three weeks ago, and boy is my head much clearer now than it was then. I desperately needed a mental break, and I’ve spent these weeks reading, exercising more, celebrating my first anniversary, enjoying Halloween and soooo many movies, prepping for the holidays, and working a bit on my previous story, which is currently in the query phase. I paused querying when I started my new book, because it was really tough doing both at the same time. But we’re back!

I find it’s important for me to not take too long of a break, either— for example, in 2019, I essentially took a break from Oct 1-Jan 1. Three months! Why? Because I was getting married in late October, was going on my honeymoon very shortly after, and was rolling right into the holiday season. I have no regrets about this–sometimes writing gets to be the top priority, and sometimes it shouldn’t–but it was tough to come back to my book after three months away. I took about a week just to re-read it and remember what the heck I was doing months ago!

Now, I’m not taking quite a month off before beginning revisions, but it’s pretty close. I’m also being realistic about how I’m planning to tackle revisions. I’m going to be totally honest with you here: I am notoriously bad at writing through the holidays. Truly terrible. Don’t tell anyone.

So this holiday season, I’m being honest with myself and my time, but I’m also pushing myself to write more than I normally do during this season (which won’t be hard, since anything will be better than the *nothing* I’ve written the last few years during this time). I’ve already decided I won’t do any writing during Thanksgiving week, and I’m going to take a break in December starting around the 18th or so. The holidays are really important to me, and being present for them mentally is just as important. I want to enjoy that time and have those moments, those memories.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about how I tackle revisions at this early stage. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I’m wishing you all the good vibes for a successful month!

Hugs and hot cocoa,

Valerie

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