I Finished My Novel... Now What?
It's been a while... but I did it! A few weeks on retreat / holiday and I've finally finished the first draft of this book. I couldn't have done it without Camp NaNoWriMo, and I couldn't have done it without the help of my amazing sprints squad on twitter - they're the reason this draft is done. So now I've got 75k sat there, waiting. What am I going to do?
I'm going to put it in a drawer - a metaphorical drawer, but still - and leave it. For a long while.
But why would you do that? Surely you want to get working on your draft as soon as humanly possible?
Because I need to get distance from what I'm writing. I can't edit this book right now. I'm too deep in it, and I'm too close to it. To successfully edit it (first structurally, then line by line) I need to be able to pull it to bits, and I can't do that when I'm still this attached to it.
That would mean that it will take you absolutely ages to ever finish a book.
Well, this draft has taken me two years (with a year-long break in the middle where I wrote a whole other book...) so it's hardly like it's going quickly anyway! But in all seriousness, it's vital to have that time away if you want to edit objectively. I know I won't do my book justice if I start editing it now. That time might seem like dead time, but I'm going to get a draft two of my other book done in that time, and then I'll swap back to this project.
Isn't it hard juggling two drafts in your head?
This is why I approach them one at a time! I can't possibly deal with two books in my head simultaneously, so I get one to a self-imposed deadline, ie finished first draft, before moving on to the next one. That way, I'm more efficient with my time as well, so I avoid that 'dead time'.
What if you were only working on one novel?
Then I'd definitely itch to get back to it sooner than otherwise! Or, I might write a whole new novel. The draft I've just finished is the first in a series, and I've already written about eight thousand words of the second book, so I'd probably do some exploratory writing in that direction (if I didn't have my second book to work on!). I couldn't just not write for six months. It'd be like having to learn to ride a bike again when I picked it back up, and that would be awful.
How close are you to getting a book finished, once you've got a first draft?
Absolutely miles. So far away it's a pinprick in the distance. I've got two first drafts of two different novels sitting here now and both of them are, in their various ways, a total mess. It's like it's trying to grow into a beautiful novel but whole swathes of it also look like a bomb has hit it. I'm hoping that will change when I have a finished second draft, but for now, it's an adorable yet disastrous mess. If you're writing your own novel, I'd imagine your first draft feels pretty much the same. If it doesn't, you are an absolute word WIZARD and you clearly possess magical powers.
How has your writing gone this summer? Have you finished any projects, or started something new? Let me know in the comments!