Resting a draft novel can be a challenging time for some writers.
We generally fall into two camps when it comes to letting our beloved draft novel rest. There are those of us who are relieved to see the back of our story and welcome some time apart from it, and there are some of us who struggle with the separation.
The latter fail to see the benefits of taking a break from working on something all of the time. Putting an important project away for a month makes them feel uncomfortable. Their literary babies are too precious to walk away from. They need constant attention.
This blog post is dedicated to those writers who, like me, get a little teary at the thought of being apart from their future bestseller and struggle to rest a draft novel.
Saying farewell to your beloved draft novel can be heart wrenching. You will have been together for weeks, months or even decades. It’s unthinkable to imagine a day where you and the gang (your cast of fictional characters) don’t hook up.
You will have heard the rumours from other writers that after resting your novel the urge to hack it to pieces and delete half your characters is strong. The mere thought of hurting your draft novel in some way makes your chest ache and eyes fill up.
How could you mess up a perfect first draft?
After a few sleepless nights and some delusional thoughts about your draft novel being the only one in the world which doesn’t need to be put away, you decide to rest your draft novel.
Wiping away tears and sobbing loudly you place your draft in a drawer. Loved ones rush to your side telling you it’s going to be okay. You and your invisible friends will be back together soon.
“How will I cope without it?” you wail, as a loved one encourages you to go take a nice warm bath, whilst others mutter under their breath, “I get the feeling we are in for a rough couple of weeks..”
Cue a period of intense writer suffering. This will involve lengthy Facebook posts how much you miss your draft, tweets about how your creative life has deteriorated since resting your draft and videos of you moaning about how silent your head feels.
Loved ones will be rolling their eyes at the sight of you wandering around the house like a lost soul. They won’t understand why you stopped working on your future bestseller.
Writing something else whilst your draft novel rests becomes the hardest thing ever. Loved ones will hear you sobbing behind the garden shed, hugging the cat in one hand and the dog in the other, “how can I write something as good as that?”
By the end of the first week apart you will be cranky, tired and tearful.
So, how do you survive this emotional time?
- Remember one day you will wake up feeling different. It might take days, weeks, months or even years but one day you will sense a disturbance in the writer force. Your draft novel is ready for some serious writer action.
- Change your thinking. Your draft novel is currently hiding underneath a magical ‘everything is perfect’ cloak. All you can see is perfection. When this magical cloak is removed you will see that your story is far from perfect.
- Repeat – separation will give you a new perspective on your draft novel.
- Speak to writer friends about resting draft novels. They will understand what you are going through. A good writer friend will sense you are feeling delicate and reassure you.
- Don’t take your draft back out after a few days. I have done this and then struggled with editing. I think my editing consisted of a few random wording changes – because my story was still wrapped in the ‘everything is perfect,’ magical cloak.
- Unwind and recharge. This is when you need some self-care. Take some time out. Drink a bottle of beer whilst watching a sunset, have a cream cake based picnic, lie on a blanket whilst watching the stars or sing your heart out in a karaoke bar.
- Refill the creative well. Watch films, go to the theatre and read a ton of books.
- Take your draft novel out once you stop getting that tingling feeling whilst thinking about it. I still have tingling feelings for stories I wrote last year. These mean you are still emotionally attached to your draft and editing will be hard.
Take it easy out there writers, parting with a draft novel is not easy however, you have to be cruel to be kind. Your draft novel needs to be improved and the only way to do this is to step away from it for a few weeks or months. The ‘everything is perfect’ magical cloak needs to be removed and packed away.
I will leave you with what Ernest Hemingway said: ‘The only kind of writing is rewriting.’
photo credit: Pexel.