The Insecure Writer’s Support Group ~ No#111

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.

The awesome co-hosts for the June posting of the IWSG are:  J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

Don’t forget to visit them and thank them for co-hosting!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Remember, the question is optional!

JUNE 02nd QUESTION – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I don’t know if there are many writers who write a “near-perfect” story in the first draft. For those who are lucky enough to be able to pull this off, I’m sure that they don’t need to spend too much time away from the first draft. This will also depend on what a first draft entails. This could differ from one writer to the next because some writers do intensive research before hand, while others start from scratch.
I suppose it would also depend on the length of the story: time away from the first draft of a 80,000 word story and time away from the first draft of a 15,000 word story? They’re two different beasts!
But I can’t be sure. I’ve never written an 80,000 word first draft.

Some writers say shelve the manuscript for at least two to three months, so that you look at it with a fresh eye. After all, you’ve been very close to the work for a long time, and you need to gain some distance from it to gain a fresh perspective. But what if that amount of time away from the story causes you to become de-motivated, or lose the “feel” for the story? Or what if being away for so long means you become totally disconnected from that story world? Logic dictates that insight will come when you are connected to the story. The more immersed you are in the story, the more insight you’ll have.
I look forward to reading what others have to say…

Happy IWSG Day!


  1. C. Lee McKenzie on June 2, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    I kind of worry about the disconnect between me and the story if I wait too long. If I’m really into the story, I like to dig in and do the edits right away. Maybe that’s a test of how good I think a book is. It’s such an interesting thing we do, isn’t it?

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:13 am

      I think all your stories are good, Lee.
      Very interesting to see how it differs from person to person.

  2. Patricia Anne Pierce-garcia Schaack on June 2, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    I do put my manuscript aside for at least a month and I start working on something else. It is not unusual for me to work on two manuscripts in the same timeframe.
    Wishing you all the best and a lovely month of June.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:16 am

      It’s good to work on more than one project at a time. But not all writers like this approach.

  3. Mary Aalgaard on June 2, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I agree. You can lose momentum for the story if you wait too long to go back to it.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:17 am

      I suppose it also depends on how long this story has been “percolating”…

  4. Marie Andreas on June 2, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    I’m an outlier writer–I’m a pantser who usually has more than one project going on ;). This switching things up does keep things fresh between all the works (although most of my writer friends run away screaming when I tell them my process). My rest time between projects is usually when I’ve sent them to beta readers or editors.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:18 am

      Yes, switching things up between projects lends a certain perspective.

  5. Carrie-Anne on June 2, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Due to many of my books being written in MacWriteII, ClarisWorks, and AppleWorks, I didn’t have access to them for many years. In some cases, I hadn’t seen them in an entire decade. All that time away gave me wonderfully fresh eyes. Now that I’m much older and more experienced, and able to create all my files in a format that hasn’t been discontinued, I wait at least a few months before returning.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:21 am

      That sounds wonderful – a combination between distance from your work + experience + maturity… you can tackle the work with ‘super-fresh’ eyes.

  6. Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 2, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    That’s why I don’t wait. I don’t want to lose momentum. That and I really like editing better.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:22 am

      I like the initial burst of writing a first draft. Editing is also exciting – but in a different way.

  7. Rachna Chhabria on June 2, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Michelle, I avoid waiting too long between drafts, because I may end up losing my intensity, (a few weeks is okay but not months). For picture book drafts, I hardly wait. For nonfiction the waiting period is barely an hour as they have been commissioned books. Stay safe.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:23 am

      Commissioned books are a different story altogether.

  8. Patty Josephine on June 2, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    How long I wait between drafts sometimes depends on how much work I know needs to go into it. I’m more likely to wait longer if there’s more work. Because procrastination! It’s not a good habit. ^^;;

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:24 am

      From time to time, we all fall prey to the procrastination beast.

  9. Lee Lowery on June 2, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    I’ve never written a near-perfect anything on the first go-around. My brain doesn’t work that way. I throw everything in, then prune and fine-tune. Timing is all about a deadline, or lack thereof. I actually enjoy the editing process – the old “I love it when a plan comes together” thing. 🤣

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:30 am

      I see that the Hannibal Smith style works for you! 😁

  10. Anna on June 2, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    It’s true that time away break the connection. It never occurred to me to worry about the motivation. Good point. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:31 am

      Perhaps it also depends on how long you’ve worked on the particular story or how eager you are to wrap up the story. 😊

  11. Jenni on June 2, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    There are people who write things near-perfect? That is not me, but I do think I’m getting better at revising as I go as I get more experienced. My first drafts are not so messy as they used to be.
    I totally agree that the length of a ms makes a difference. For 80,000 words, you’ve probably forgotten what the beginning looks like if you don’t go back and reread.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:34 am

      I wonder for how long a writer can realistically shelve a 80 000 word draft.

  12. Shannon Lawrence on June 3, 2021 at 1:45 am

    Those are really good points at the end. Everyone works differently.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:35 am

      Everyone is different. That’s the beauty of the writing journey.

  13. Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy on June 3, 2021 at 5:14 am

    That’s why you have to find what works for you.

  14. Sonia Dogra on June 3, 2021 at 5:32 am

    I agree. Putting something aside for too long may not quite work. I mostly do poetry or short stories. So I may be wrong about longer versions.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:36 am

      I also write mostly short fiction. It’s different.

  15. Annalisa Crawford on June 3, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I try so hard to put my manuscript aside, but I get overly excited by all the ideas I’ve had when I get to the end of a draft – I write notes, but I’m worried I’ll forget the essence of it if I waited. So I tend to delve right back into it.

    However, I also do about 20 drafts, give or take. Which is a lot, isn’t it? And not very efficient…

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:38 am

      Twenty drafts – that’s a solid process. Nothing wrong with that.

  16. Loni Townsend on June 3, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    I look forward to the day when I can set aside this book. When I eventually get there, it might be years before I pick it up again with fresh eyes.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:39 am

      You’ve invested so much in the story and will know when the time is right.

  17. Hilary Melton-Butcher on June 4, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Hi Michelle – I can see if you’re up and running as an author … I guess you’re in the mode and have found your way of working … so I can see we just need to adjust to our own best way … good luck with all your projects – cheers Hilary

  18. Denise Covey on June 6, 2021 at 4:43 am

    Hi Mishy. I don’t think it’s a great idea to leave too long between first draft and editing. That said, I’ve left years after writing a first draft, but don’t expect I’ll ever publish them! How’s your writing going?

    • Michelle Wallace on June 6, 2021 at 11:42 am

      Hi Denise. The writing is going in fits and starts. It’s been a challenging year… but this too shall pass. Hope you’re well. 😊

  19. Jemi Fraser on June 6, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    The length of the story definitely matters for me. I need some time away before drafting. Thankfully, my bouncy brain has multiple stories for me to bounce between 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on June 11, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      I love the way you describe your bouncy brains! You’ll never be bored or stuck with one story. You can just hop onto the next one.

  20. M.J. Fifield on June 7, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    I find I need to put a manuscript away for a month or two before I start on the next draft/step. It helps me look at it with fresh eyes that have an easier time spotting some of those problem areas. But the exact amount of time depends on the project itself. I had one WIP that sat in a drawer for about eight years before I did anything else with it.

    • Michelle Wallace on June 11, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Eight years is a long time. I’m sure you had a wonderful perspective when you looked at it again.

  21. H.R. Sinclair on June 8, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    I think I’m still learning what is better for me, but I think it depends on the story how long I wait.

  22. Nick Wilford on June 15, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    I try not to leave it too long, but it can become long if I start working on something different (another first draft). Then it’s however long that draft takes. I think that might reconnect me to it better than if I was idle for a month and looked at it again, because I’ve still got my writer’s hat on, even if for a different story. Does that make sense?

  23. Yvonne V on June 21, 2021 at 12:33 am

    The disconnect is a good point. The process really depends on the writer. 🙂

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