5 Things to Do between Drafts
Finishing a draft of a novel is an accomplishment in itself, and well worth the time off you can (and should) take to celebrate. After all, you’ve taken a substantial step toward publication. But sometimes it’s hard. What if you don’t want to stop writing? What if you’re still daydreaming about the final pages and simply can’t shut your manuscript in your sock drawer for a few weeks before you start revising or writing your next draft? Sometimes finishing a book can be more painful than getting stuck in the middle. Fortunately, you don’t have to cut yourself off entirely. Here’s a list of projects you can work on if you find yourself separated from your WIP between drafts.
It’s never too early to start working on a new project. While your WIP cools out of your hold, you can start working out and planning your next book. You can also start writing. You might have a hard time switching your attention to a different project, but if your fingers are itching to slam onto your keyboard, this can be an effective (and productive) stress reliever. Plus, with many ideas, concepts and images still fresh in your mind, you can dive into your next book easily.
Many writers forget to read, and this comes as a detriment. If you enjoy crafting and creating books, you should also take the time to explore books others have written. This is a great time to find new author peers to follow and study, as well as discover new favorites. Another idea is to read more books on writing, story-crafting, or marketing. Using your downtime to prepare for the near future is always a wise bet, and now is one time when you aren't too busy to take a look.
This is the perfect time to learn something new or hone a weak spot. While you have time away from writing directly, you can throw yourself into practicing your craft. Study a new genre, break out some writing activities and exercises, or sign up for that publishing course. What you learn might even come in handy for your next draft or revision.
If you’re writing the first book in a series, you probably have more space for worldbuilding. I’m not counting the character sheets and outlines you might have put in place for book number one. (Though if you did that, kudos–you’re ahead!) What kind of worldbuilding you do and need to do depends on your genre. With fantasy and science fiction, you can take the time to clarify the inner workings of your world and society with greater focus than you had earlier. With one book (or a draft of a book) already behind you, you can consider the parts of your universe that you haven’t tapped into. For a romantic series, you can consider the aspects of your world that your other books all have in common–locations, characters, and history, and give it the extra oomph it deserves.
Lastly, you can take a break from writing entirely and focus on something else. This can be difficult if you’re still obsessed with your draft and still in a serious writing mode, but sometimes the change in pace is necessary. Taking a break is especially helpful if you know your current draft has problems. Not just improvements that could stand to be made, but serious errors that could mean a substantial re-write or editing phase to come. Just like any mental hurdle, the time you take away from it could be enough to give you the necessary ideas, flexibility, and open-mindedness you need to see where it needs to go. What do you do when you’re between drafts? Please share in the comments section below, or join my group on Facebook for further discussion.