Finishing a first draft is amazing. Last week I talked about finishing my draft of ‘Walking The Razor’s Edge‘ and how the end crept up to nab me in the back. This week I want to talk about how to deal with ‘the end.’
One: Recognise That It’s Not the End
You’ve finished your draft. Your characters have done whatever it was they were going to do (certainly not what you were planning for them to do if your luck is anything like mine) and you’ve written ‘the end’ with a flourish at the end of whatever software you might be using.
But it’s not the end. This is only the beginning. This draft is done but there will be redrafts. There will be edits. There will be fine tuning. You’re not done with these characters yet.
They’ve spent weeks (or months) leading you a merry dance through the manuscript digging themselves into holes, getting lost in the plot and talking over much. Now it’s your turn the rein them in and make their words and actions shine like silver (or gold if that’s your preference).
Two: Have A Rest
You bloody deserve it. Writing a story, be it novel, novella or flash, takes a lot out of you. You invest yourself in it. Take a chance to rest now. Go for a walk. Have dinner with your family. Remind yourself what your kids look like. Forget about the story for a while.
This time allows your mind to decompress and effectively forget about the story. If you need a month, take a month. If you need longer, take that. Whatever you do, rest your brain, let it leave that particular story alone. Tip Three will help with that.
Three: Have The Next Project Lined Up In Advance
Whether it’s editing or another first draft, make sure you know what you’ll be moving onto before you finish that first draft. It’s easy to get lost in ‘dead space’ and struggle to find something to fill your writing time when that all consuming first draft is done. Planning ahead and knowing what you’re doing next will help with that.
It also means that when you leave the story behind to give yourself space from it, you’ve not stepped away from writing completely. You’re still working. And, better than that, your brain will still be working on the story anyway. Quietly. Unobtrusively. Without you knowing. This ‘back brain’ process is invaluable, but won’t happen unless you are distracted by something else. Give yourself that space.
Four: Decide What You Want To Do With It
If, like me, you’re planning to self publish your masterpiece, there are lots of things to consider. Many people will tell you that now is not the time to be thinking about book covers, marketing plans and pricing, but I say it is. This is the perfect time to think about it because it helps remind you why you wrote the piece in the first place.
I need constant reminders of my plans. Why do you think I do goal posts every week? I need to know what’s coming because the knowing is a spur keep me moving. When I’m flagging, or losing hope, knowing that my final place will see my book for sale on Amazon or anywhere else, it gives me fresh energy. If I know I’ll be able to hold a physical copy of my book in my hands and touch the awesome cover, that helps when I’m feeling low. So thinking about all these other things is really handy for keeping my head in the game.
Five: Reward Yourself
Don’t confuse this with having a rest. It’s not the same. When I say reward, I mean do something for yourself to place a massive exclamation point at the end of your achievement. And fit the reward to the task you completed. When I finish a first draft, I like to sit down to a good movie. If I can, I go to the cinema, if not I sit in the living room in full dark with a bag of crisps beside me and a pack of Haribo.
If I’ve sold something I like to go to dinner and involve my family. Rewards can be anything you like, so long as they say ‘well done’ for the fantastic achievement you’ve just made. And be sure to do it. We writers are hard on ourselves, we don’t pat ourselves on the back anywhere near enough.With all that said, I guess I’d better make sure I’m doing it!
Was a little slow. I don’t feel like I achieved quite as much as I wanted because I was floating around in the fog of Raven’s achievement.
Outline ghost story for Boo Books anthology call
Done. I even started writing, I think I got 400 words in.
Speak with fellow collaborators to learn if I’m allowed to talk about what we’re up to
Eeerm. Yes and now. Yes, in that I’m on the hunt for authors willing to write fantasy stories anywhere from 5,000 words to 25,000 words to a brief we provided. No, in that I can’t give you masses and masses of detail. Ho hum.
Read through the reader notes offered by betas and organise them into ‘problem type’
Half way through doing this I realise what I waste of time it was. The comments are clear and concise and having already read through them I know where the issues are. In light of that, I just started going through Silk Over Razor Blades again with those in mind. I’ve already made a pretty significant change based on a combination of the comments. All three of my main readers pointed out that the beginning two thirds are a little slow compared to the last. That’s good in that they’re not just slow, but even compared to the rest that’s no good. Some of the changes I’ve already made should take care of that and I’ve sheared off a whole chapter to up the pace a little bit. It already feels cleaner and smoother. I’ll keep you posted with how I get on.
I want to get this ghost story out of the way. I think I’ve been quiet lax about it and I want it done fairly soon so I can give more time over to my other project. I’d also like to read it at the Phoenix Writers before I sent it off, which means I need as much time as possible to read it.
- Write at least 1,000 words of Boo Books ghost story per working day (at least three days)
- Beta edit at least four chapters of SORB (at least four working days)
- Figure out what the hell a blog tour is and how to run one
Yep. It’s time to think of marketing, promotion and getting heard. All stuff that needs lots of planning in advance. I have an idea of what a blog tour is, but so far everything I’ve read seems to conflict. A bit weird, that. So I’ll be doing some research on that across the week. I believe I do need one (it’s such a nice way to meet new bloggers and gain exposure) that it would be a wasted opportunity, what with a novel due out in Autumn.
…anybody interested in being involved with that? 😉