#IWSG: Re-drafting – how long is long enough?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

June 2 question – 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?

I’ve very little experience in having any form of pattern or process to my writing or editing. Generally there’s little spare between my finding the time to write and the need to publish, but I do like to have some time between the first draft and what finally goes out. In practice, that can be anything from just overnight to days/weeks.

On those occasions when I’ve left a draft for months, the time I spend getting back into the story can either be terribly useful at picking up issues I’d not seen at the time, or just downright depressing as I can’t remember where I was going. I know this relates to my being a natural pantser rather than a plotter, and is something I’m working to address. Still… it does mean I’ve a tendency not to leave anything for too long.

The only complete piece of full length fiction I’ve written has been in progress since April 2018, when the first 40,000 words were written. Getting fully back into the voice(s) of the story after any longer break does take me a while and a fair bit of reading. But getting away from the story – even when unplanned – has been helpful in getting a fresh perspective, and has been when duplications and inconsistencies suddenly became glaring and obvious.

What isn’t clear yet is how long is long enough. But the more I write – and re-write – the clearer that will become (I hope).

The awesome co-hosts for the  J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria– do take a moment to visit them.

While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s a Fiction Can Be Fun’s USP – Project Gutenberg. This is a deceptively simple #FlashFiction prompt but it does require some active choice on your part…

To select your prompt, go to the Recent Books section of the Project Gutenberg website. Pick a book whose title makes you go ‘ooooh I know what I want to write about …’ and there you have it – your #FlashFiction prompt for this month.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, full details will be on our post going live Sunday morning.

© Debra Carey, 2021

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics. I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun, where my #IWSG reflections can be found; and my Life Coaching business is Caring Coaching.

10 thoughts on “#IWSG: Re-drafting – how long is long enough?”

  1. My tendency is the same: I don’t like to leave things sitting for too long. Maybe a day or two. A week, at the most. If I wait longer than that, I’ll have all these new ideas that I want to add into the story, and it’ll just be a mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do like to let things sit, but if I leave it too long, it’s really hard to get back into the story, because I’m out of “the zone” of where I was and what I was thinking at the time. I haven’t revisited any earlier novels that I haven’t published yet.

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    1. Nick, this is the problem I suffer with too. It’s so hard to overcome when time available for writing (and editing) is limited. I’ve been back to a couple of WIPs which have languished, only picked one of them back up.

      On another point, I’ve just visited your site & tried to leave a comment but been unable to. Since the death of Google+ I’ve not been able to comment unless the blog owner enables the “Name & URL” option as I don’t have a Blogger account.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Deb. If I shelve a short-term project I risk loosing momentum, and find myself having to start over. These are usually contract pieces with a tight deadline. When it comes to my bigger projects, like novels and dictating my podcast episodes, I can shelve it to work on other stuff without losing my place. Projects of passion sit on my mind until they come to fruition. They have their own neural pathways set making it less likely for me to lose my place. Great post. Thank you for sharing! Happy IWSG Day.

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    1. Ooooh Adrienne, I like that description “project of passion” and how they sit on your mind. The one shelved WIP that I pick back up on a regular basis is my project of passion, so you’ve been proven absolutely right. Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While I have no actual pattern for letting work sit, I always leave everything for some period of time. Otherwise, I’m just too close to it. If a deadline is involved, that obviously pushes the envelope. No deadline? Pfffft. I’ve got stories on my hard drive that have been cooling for years. 🤣

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    1. “Cooling for years”! 😀 I like the sound of them cooling… It makes me feel like I’ve not been derelict in my duty to them!

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  5. I like leaving work to simmer a little after I’m finished, but I HATE leaving it in the middle. It’s so hard to get back into the right voice and mood once too much time has passed. Sometimes it’s impossible, if my brain is no longer in the same place. I have more than one half-finished manuscript that just wasn’t working out so I had to abandon it, and now I will never be able to get back into the mind space to complete it.


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    1. CD, I’ve just been over to your site and cannot comment without a Blogger account as you’ve not activated the “Name & URL” comment option.

      Never getting back into the mind space sounds absolutely awful. I had a real struggle to get back into the voice of my recently completed co-authored work after a long break, but I did persevere. I something think that’s another good thing about co-authoring, you’re driven by not wanting to let down your writing partner.

      Liked by 1 person

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