How long do you shelve your first draft before you begin revising? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt? Insecure Writers Want to Know

Always good questions to contemplate each month with IWSG. The only book-length manuscript I’ve ever created is my college memoir. I’ve taken a few months before revising and creating yet another draft. The book is finally being beta read now. Yay! 

http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


When I create short stories, however, I usually wait a week or two before revising. I request a few writer friends to offer critiques to help in revision. Then after revising the story and making it the best I can, I swallow—hard—and send the story out. Praying all the while that I have something marketable in the eyes of the gatekeepers. 

As a writer, I need to be careful not to get stuck in the vicious cycle of constantly revising my manuscripts. Has this ever happened to you? 

I was concerned that my problem with constant revision was happening with my college memoir. I was hooked on all my funny anecdotes. I loved them. I still do! They make me laugh in all the right places. But memoir needs to be more than a collection of funny anecdotes. People look to memoir to learn something about the writer/protagonist as well as themselves. Universal themes the editors call it. 

I didn’t wish to “use up” my generous beta readers’ time by sending them a lengthy manuscript that needed a lot of work. That’s why before I sent the whole manuscript out to beta readers, I had an editor help me finetune it. Have you ever used a developmental editor or book coach to help you write a strong draft of your story?

I’m also in the process of getting my website together. Victoriamarielees.com through hover. I hope to have it ready by July 2021.  

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

Thanks for visiting! And be sure to stop by Adventures in Writing again.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’d like to thank our co-hosts for June: J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria! Please visit them if you can. 

Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE. 

36 thoughts on “How long do you shelve your first draft before you begin revising? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt? Insecure Writers Want to Know”

  1. Hi Victoria, I hope you are well 🙂 You've just confirmed to me that I should join a local writers group – I need writing friends that can give me feed back before sending anything off. It will improve my chances of getting published. Thanks! irevive.online

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  2. Hi Victoria – yes: 'messing around' with one's work … always sets off other thoughts. I guess having a basic plan – and perhaps having a glossary, or addendum, or a 'something!' that puts all the extras somewhere for use later on … for you perhaps adding camping tips, or dealing with family, or recipes with those anecdotes – leaving the memoir whole – so a 2nd edition could have a reference to the extra/s. Hope that makes sense …
    But sending out a revised document makes absolute sense – the same as dealing with any professional administrative problem … all the details to hand and tied up – leaving everyone with less to do.
    Good luck – and excellent to know about the website … all the best – Hilary

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  3. I definitely get stuck rewriting a bunch of times! I love your idea of having an editor help you develop the draft. My first book-length manuscript I ever completed, I shelved for several years. My most recent was about a week and then I had to get back to it.
    Kathy-Imagine Today

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  4. I'm trying to work quicker now because I don't want to spend years on books. But it's a balance between that and giving the book space to breathe and develop. Trying to find the sweet spot!

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  5. Even after all these years I still get caught up in too much editing. It happened with my recent ms too. It's like a disease. I was hoping wisdom would come with age. Not happening this week, but I'm always hopeful. Cheers.

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  6. I had an editor help with the draft of my novel when I felt it was ‘good’ – boy, did that prove insightful! It was two more drafts after that before I could send it out for query. So I completely understand what you say about the cycle of drafting… and always wanting to tweak more. 🙂

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  7. I hadn't considered the length of the story changing my 'rest' time but it makes perfect sense! I'm glad you pointed it out. And yes, I use and adore developmental edits. My editor always, always catches things I was just too close to the story to see.

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  8. I could edit and revise my work forever. But at some point we have to be strong and call it quits. When that is, every author has to figure out themselves.

    The version of Plunge (called something else way back when) I sent out to beta readers was still very long. I wanted their help with telling me which parts didn’t fit or could get cut. Only at the very end did I use a developmental editor, copy editor, and proofreaders.

    Happy to read your making progress with the memoir!

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  9. Hi, Noman, and welcome to Adventures in Writing. Insecure Writers Support Group is the best place to become a better writer. Welcome. And thanks for your note at Adventures in Writing. All best to you!

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  10. Bravo to you, Dawn! Way to go! I move along slowly, too. No worries, so long as we eventually send out our manuscripts.

    It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

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  11. My pleasure, Sarah! All writers need other writers to read their work before they send it out. We are too close to the story and can't see what's missing or what's repetitious. Good luck with everything!

    And thanks for your comment at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  12. Thank you so much, Hilary, for sharing this insight at Adventures in Writing. I truly appreciate it. You've got some good ideas here. Really, thank you!

    It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

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  13. Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Kathy! I'm so glad you're here.

    Good for you to get back to your draft in about a week! More power to you. Many writers get stuck in rewriting.

    Thanks so much for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  14. So true, Nick. Bravo to you for trying to work quicker and not spend years on a book. It is definitely a balancing act. Good luck.

    Thanks for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful day!

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  15. Nuts! You were supposed to tell me it gets better the more books you write. But I believe over-editing is a disease, Joylene. The only thing we can do is remain hopeful.

    Thanks for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful day!

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  16. Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Emma! I'm so glad you're here.

    It is so helpful to have a knowledgeable editor take a look at your manuscript before sending it out. Good for you!

    And thanks for your comment at Adventures in Writing. Please stop by again!

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  17. Good for you, Samantha, for having a method that works for you. And bravo for having "publishing schedules." I wish I did!

    Thanks so much for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  18. This is so true, S.E.! We are too close to the story to see some problems with the storyline. I'm always happy when I suggest something new to a writer.

    Thanks so much for your comment at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  19. Lucky you, Liza, to have a writing group to keep you in line! I just moved and am terribly missing my last writing group. I'm looking for a local group to connect with in my new area.

    Thanks so much for your comment at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  20. I could edit forever, too, Liesbet! I'm so proud of you and your travel memoir Plunge. You are right. Every writer needs a copy editor and proofreaders. A developmental editor is very, very helpful in making the story readable and enjoyable.

    It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

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  21. The vicious cycle of constant revisions is a real thing. I revise right up to a deadline, if I have one. And if there's no deadline, I never seem to stop tinkering.

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  22. It is truly difficult to pull oneself out of excessive revision mode, isn't it, Rachna? I find it terribly so.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG for June! And thank you for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your week!

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  23. I liked your post. There are many obstacles to us writing but nothing beats writing! Thank you for co-hosting this month. dianeweidenbenner.com

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