Satisfaction comes when you sit back, stare at the screen, and give yourself a pat on the back for completing the first draft.
Depending on how much work you put in – or in my case “didn’t” – your first draft could be a piece of creative art or a jumbled shell that needs unpicking. I adopt the Think Less Write More strategy, so usually my first draft is 50% good and 50% garbage.
The much needed second stage of writing a novel comes into play at this point – the Redraft.
But when should you do it?
The answer is as subjective as the number of buttons I tap per minute.
Some will say that you should leave the novel for at least 3 months, some will say 6 months, and there will be some that don’t wait and jump back into it straightaway. Everyone had their own quirk.
I once tried the 3 month gap before redrafting, and it thrust me into a pickle. I ended up being caught between writing a new novel, redrafting the previous, and editing another. My brain was frazzled. Now, I apply a 2 week gap after the first draft. Sure, it’s a tiny gap, but by that time, I’ve already forgotten much of what I wrote, so it works for me.
I find that if you have too large a gap – like 13 months (as what has happened with Novel 3) – then you might redraft at a slower rate because the novel is totally alien. Yes, that’s a good thing… but it’s also a bad thing. I’m scouring every word without knowing what will come next… so I’m going back and forth like a lost bee a million miles from his hive.
I have pros and cons for how big the gap should be:
Straight after completing First Draft – There are no Pros. It’s all a con. You need some time away.
2 Weeks after completing FD – Pro = You won’t remember all from earlier parts of the novel. Con = Won’t suit everyone, and they might know too much, and fleet over glaring issues/mistakes.
4 Weeks – Pro = As with 2 Weeks. Con = None in my opinion.
3 Months – Pro = You’ll attacked the novel with a vague idea of what happened where. Con = Does it impact on where you are with another novel?
6 Months – Pro = It’ll be like stepping into a long-lost journey. Con = You may struggle to piece together the plot or why you wrote what you wrote.
1 Year – Pro = You’re redrafting something that doesn’t feel like yours and are totally redrafting as a reader. Con = Has your voice changed in terms of a writer to how you envisaged the novel to play out? And are you spending longer on trying to put it all together?
Remember – it’s all subjective.
I prefer to go for 2 weeks, because I forget about what I wrote last week.
How long do you wait to redraft?