A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about first drafts and how you should always remember that they are simply step one in a process. After all, they are called first drafts, the implication being that there will be a second draft (and likely several more). But before you get started on that next, better version of your story, there’s something else you must do first. You must move on to something else.
The impulse to scroll back to the beginning of your document and get started right away on reading it, refining it, and rewriting it can be overwhelming. After reaching the end, you may already have ideas of how to get started on that second draft. But I would encourage you to recognize the importance of stepping away for some time. Every story needs some breathing room, and that’s especially important to remember with first drafts. Before you can revise and edit, you have to gain distance from all those words you lovingly crafted, or else you won’t be able to change much.
In this interim time, give the story away to someone whose opinion you trust. Let them read what you’ve written and offer their own suggestions for improvement. Try hard not to even think about the story or your characters. Let the story lie in the way you first imagined it so that you can improve upon it later. Find another project to become immersed in so that you’re not dwelling on that first draft.
Right now, I’m on the cusp of finishing the first draft of the novel I began writing last November. I’ve already sketched out a plan for how it needs to be revised and changed to make more sense, plot-wise. But when I type the words “the end,” I’m going to begin on another writing project the very next day. I’m going to gain some distance and then return, eventually, to start anew. I advise you all to do the same with your first drafts. Happy writing!
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan