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Let your first draft rest (minimum: six weeks).

Discussion in 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft' started by FindingGila, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. FindingGila

    FindingGila Member

    In On Writing, Stephen King recommends that once one finishes their first draft (of a novel), they should immediately put it away (let it rest) for a minimum of six weeks.

    And while the first draft is resting away, one could (or should) start a new project (something entirely different and/or shorter) or get back to one's everyday life again.

    The route I have taken (with the first draft of my novella complete), is to almost immediately embark on writing a totally different genre short story (something in the length of four to six thousand words).

    I'm crafting it at one thousands words per day, and should be done shortly (obviously).

    My question is, how long should I put it (the short story) away to rest, before rewriting and revising it? Six weeks too? Or for shorter works, do you all think Stephen King would recommend a shorter time frame?

    I'm totally new at this craft, so any and all input is much appreciated.
    mal, Neesy, blunthead and 6 others like this.
  2. Moderator

    Moderator Ms. Mod Administrator

    Welcome to the Board! As you write and rewrite more you'll find your own rhythm for what works best for you as what works for Steve may not be the same. It may have as much to do with the story material as the length, i.e. a lighter theme wouldn't require as much distance but in general he would probably recommend less time for a short story.
    mal, Neesy, blunthead and 8 others like this.
  3. Spideyman

    Spideyman Uber Member

    mal, Neesy, blunthead and 5 others like this.
  4. mustangclaire

    mustangclaire There's petrol runnin' through my veins.

    Welcome to the Board. I think in my humble, non writer-ish way, do what is right, and works, for you, and only you.
    mal, Neesy, blunthead and 5 others like this.
  5. king family fan

    king family fan Prolific member

  6. kingzeppelin

    kingzeppelin Member who probably should be COMMITTED!


    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

  8. Mr Nobody

    Mr Nobody Well-Known Member

    This. (And welcome, btw.)
    As a guide to the craft, there's none better (IMO) than On Writing...but it is just a guide, and as Ms Mod also said, what works for SK might not work half as well for you.
    The best answer I can give is to play it by ear, every time.
    (And either befriend or find a good editor for when you've got a draft you're happy with; you'll never catch everything yourself.)
    mal, Neesy, skimom2 and 4 others like this.
  9. VultureLvr45

    VultureLvr45 Well-Known Member

    He He He, as opposed to here? :snicker: images-101.jpeg
    mal, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 1 other person like this.
  10. blunthead

    blunthead Well-Known Member

    And then make yourself at home.
    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.
  11. blunthead

    blunthead Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the SKMB!
    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ...I never like letting my draft rest...it just gets warm & flat...
    mal, Neesy and blunthead like this.
  13. blunthead

    blunthead Well-Known Member

    ...a rested draft dispels no gas...
    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.
  14. Bryan James

    Bryan James Well-Known Member


    It's gonna be different for everyone.

    When I finish an adequate-but-crapfeely project I can start a new (or work on an existing) thing immediately.

    When I finalize something that I think is great, I get a little postwritum depression and need to take some time off.

    It is generally good to shelf early drafts of larger works so you can "read with fresh eyes." If it goes stale on you, it's because it wasn't a great idea in the first place.
    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.
  15. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    mal, Neesy, Doc Creed and 1 other person like this.
  16. Bryan James

    Bryan James Well-Known Member

    Life is nothing but a chain of endful improvisations.

    Every piece of art is not the same.

    Like children, they demand different attention.
    mal, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 1 other person like this.
  17. Mr Nobody

    Mr Nobody Well-Known Member

    skimom2, mal, Neesy and 1 other person like this.
  18. CathyWeeks

    CathyWeeks Member

    I know this is an old thread, but as a writer (and one of those writers who - ahem - took a job teaching others to write) I think I can answer this.

    Let the draft rest until you regain your objectivity, however long that may be. That's going to vary based on what kind of writing it, how long it is, how hard it was to write it. It varies from writer to writer. You'll get a sense of how long you need, with some time and experience. Six weeks is as good a place to start as any, but definitely no less than two.

    When I finish a story/blog post/editorial, I think it's the greatest thing EVER. It's the great American novel, and I'm going to win a goddamn Pulitzer. A few weeks later, and my impression is quite different. What is this ****e? Did I write this?? What was I thinking? A few weeks after that, and it starts to seem like maybe it has potential. Something I can work with, and meld into something reasonable.

    I can edit and revise it right away, but I don't really start to be able to see it with objective eyes for at least a couple of weeks. I have a Nanowrimo novel (all of 8 pages long) from a couple of years ago, and I'm so objective about it now, that it's like reading someone else's writing.

    The one kind of writing that I can revise immediately and do so objectively is technical writing. But that's because there is zero artistry to it. Good technical writing is clear, clean, easy-to-understand, consistent, and simple. The sentences are short, and passive voice isn't avoided (though I do work to keep it at a minimum). You don't paint pictures in people's minds - that's what actual images are for. There is no room for interpretation. (Though, one of the most humbling of experiences in my tech writing life was the time we had people actually follow our instructions, to see whether it worked).
    TheMayor, mal, Neesy and 1 other person like this.
  19. CathyWeeks

    CathyWeeks Member

    I thought of something else - if someone tries to give you constructive criticism on your work (and they aren't being total jerks about it), and it hurts your feelings, then it's probably too soon, and it hasn't rested long enough. SK's description of your characters (which I believe are extensions of yourself, at least a little) as "little darlings" is completely apt.
    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.
  20. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    SK was referring to editing as "kill your darlings." Those were the things you thought were brilliant pieces of writing, but have to edit out.
    mal, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 2 others like this.

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