What Do You Do Between Drafts? #amwriting

Broken strings on my harp. I’m a bad harp mother.

Miss D’s Friday question: what do you do between drafts? I put the question to my fellow bloggers and was surprised by their answers!

Keenan: Tune That Harp!

I’ve been told it’s a good idea to take a break, put the book aside, and when you come back tackle it with fresh eyes. Coming up on the end of my first draft of Book #5 and have visions of painting the used-to-be-baby-nursery for my new home-law-office. It’s going to be periwinkle. Also I plan to replace the busted strings on my harp, tune it, and ease my way into playing in the afternoon again.

Connie: Why wait?

Actually, when I finish a first or an early draft, I get excited because that’s where the fun starts for me. Writing from scratch is HARD. Revising words already on the page is pure joy! And when I’m finally finished with a draft (ready to send to my editor), I kinda mourn because a) I want to stay in the story and b) I could literally continue polishing and revising until the end of the world. Revision is my favorite part of writing!

Susan: What break?

I love first drafts because I feel so free. I can write anything. Nothing is wrong. It’s when I get to the second draft that I feel like I have to get serious and get out my calendar and start making sure that everything makes sense. That’s when I begin thinking more about characters. That’s when the work gets really hard. But I don’t usually take a break because I’ve usually forgotten enough that it’s not necessary.

Michele: Take a break!

I had a periwinkle law office once, Keenan, and an aqua conference room. The soothing colors seemed to help reduce conflict. 

After a first draft, I take ten days to three weeks to give me some distance from what I’ve written so I can read it with fresh eyes when I begin to edit. This assumes I’m not under the gun to submit it somewhere. I agonize over first drafts. I suffer from the need to be good and perfect, a plight shared by many women. 

Emilya: Dive Right Back In!

I feel like this question presumes years of habit and a system :-). I’m still figuring this out. In general, unless I have something else going on, I begin a new draft as soon as I’m done with the previous one. I just roll right back to the beginning and begin to resolve whatever I left for myself in ALL CAPS the first time around. As in (DESCRIBE STEP BY STEP HOW TO SHOOT HEROIN) or (HOW DO KIDS END UP IN GROUP HOMES). Etc. However, if the draft I just finished has to go to an editor, obviously it goes and then I begin research on the next thing or editing the short stories waiting for a polish. My favorite draft is probably the first AND second, but I consider the research and outline part necessary before the first begins so in some ways the first is kind of the first-and-a-half.

In any case, the process is always changing for me. I haven’t settled on anything remotely like a routine.

Tracee: Next!

Are you trying to kill me! Actually, I agree with Susan that the first draft is fun! Anything goes! However, I may try to walk back from that in the future because I sometimes have a terrible time working through the next iterations, and I have many drafts. I get bogged down in the details and can’t take that big step back to do a “complete second draft.” It’s like running up a hill and making it a tiny bit farther every time. Now, at some point, I do. And usually I have an ah ha moment (cresting the hill), finally understanding where the big changes have to occur, acknowledging the whole without obsessing over the parts. When the draft (the real finished one) is complete I’m usually so excited that I want to dive straight into the next project, the one that has been teasing me while I finished that darn draft!

Alexia: No rest for the wicked!

I usually move on to the next item on my seemingly endless to-do list. I’m a big believer in editors because I find it hard to be objective about my own work. My “break” comes when I send the draft to my editor (for my novels) or my advisor (for my academic papers) for review and feedback. In the meantime, I work on my podcast or social media feeds and website, do research for my next project/paper, or start the next book on my TBR list. No rest for the wicked 😉 (But I do squeeze in some knitting or embroidery or online shopping.)

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Writers: What do you do between drafts?

Readers: Do you take a break between books? What do you do?


  1. As a writer, I do a bit of clean up and then work on the next project. As a reader, I finish one book and move into the next.

  2. Vicky, do you come back to it later on? I can’t seem to let go! I just typed “The End” and now I’m tidying my notes for the revision. Then going to make breakfast and wash my hair.

  3. I don’t take time out until after what I think is the last draft. Before I send it out, I try to let it *cure* and then do re-read. But there isn’t always time and I don’t always have the patience. I like seeing how everyone else does this!

  4. Thanks, Kaye! I’m going to collect the notes scattered all over my house for the revision. Maybe I’ll type them up into a neat to-do list. Tune the harp. Paint new home office. And then butt in chair again Monday morning.

  5. I do set up a new notebook before starting a new book. Somehow I manage to meld the characters traits of super-organized and hopeless procrastinator. It’s not pretty.

  6. Connie: LOL! I got a pretty notebook at Christmas, used about six pages and then went back to writing on whatever is closest. Not pretty, for sure.

    There is a new book beating around in my head but I don’t want to give it attention until I’ve shipped this one off. Soon, though. Soon.

  7. Thoughtful post ladies! I can see there is no right way to write and revise. You are inspirational to us Lee-published writers. Thank you.

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