1st Draft: Digging Back In

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from my YA WIP. It’s been a couple of weeks of spring break vacation, developing and delivering talks, doing some work for a client, getting through a couple of big research books, getting to the next step on my picture book, and I can’t actually remember what else. Although I’m sure there’s more. πŸ™‚

Anyway, the decks are cleared for at least a week, and this week I AM WRITING. (If I could figure out how to do a bigger font in WordPress, you’d really hear me shouting that one.)

Yes, I am writing. Even though, in the perfect scheme of things, I’m not actually ready.

When we last tuned in to the Bat Channel, Batman and Robin were hanging from a beam over a pot of bubbling….

Oops. When I last tuned in to my story, I was not happy with it.Β The scene I finished up and sent off to my critique group was drifty and unfocused, the MC was NOT on any strong path–forward or backward, and nobody was doing anything I wanted them to do. Probably because I didn’t know what they should be doing.

Well, let me tell you. Coming back to a story that I’ve left in this state, especially after a number of days away, I could totally spend a week in recovery. You know, thinking and thinking and thinking about where I am in the book, rather than storing the questions on the KEEP THINKING shelf in my brain, and writing forward.

I’m staying away from recovery this week. Part of this decision comes from the fact that in a couple of weeks, things get busy all over again, and I want to make some progress NOW. Part of it comes from the fact that I truly believe that getting a first draft OUT will teach me more about my character, about my plot, than going back will…at least right now. But the big part of it is that…I MISS WRITING.

(I apologize for all the capital letters. I seem to be channeling Dorothy Sayers’ Miss Climpson today.)

And so I am going to write. I’m even jumping back in at a point where I should really do more research, since I’m writing the first scene in the book that takes place in a public school in 1913 Chicago, and I seriously don’t have a grasp of that world yet. My mantra for the week? “This can wait.” (See, no more all caps!) I’m going to stick her in a desk and surround her with girls and a teacher, and I’m going to concentrate on goal + obstacle = tension, and I’m going to PRODUCE WORDS. (Oops!)

What do you do when you’ve had to take a break? Do you step back in slowly, or do you throw yourself into the whirlpool, let yourself get sucked under, and see where you end up?

Have a wonderful writing week!


  1. claudine says:

    Good for you, Becky!
    I’m in the same boat as far as wanting to just get my first draft done, so I’m pretending I know all about what I’m talking about, research-wise. Then, when I’m done, I’ll go back and fix my baby up.

    Let’s write!


    • beckylevine says:

      You’re on! I’m trying to think about a few important things while I write, but mostly about who my MC is and what she wants that she isn’t getting. Details must wait.


  2. Becky, have a great week. I guess whether we tiptoe or jump, we just need to see where the whirlpool whirls us. I tend to tiptoe, but sometimes I trip… which is kind of fun.


  3. Traci VW says:

    CANNONBALL! Dive in and have a great writing week. Research and details can come after the first draft is done. Last November’s Nano taught me that. πŸ˜€ Now I’m working in the details


  4. Boy, this was a timely post for me. I tend to approach my WIP slowly after a few days away from it. And, sometimes I have to bring out the pom-poms.

    But, your post inspires me to get in there, no matter how I do it.


    • beckylevine says:

      Today is for getting restarted. I want to get back into the story & remember why I love it. Good luck on your writing!


  5. Jeanie W says:

    I dove in on Friday morning — both into my own writing and into critiquing πŸ™‚ — and didn’t come up for air much until Sunday evening. I actually achieved my to-do list goals for the weekend. I may have overdone it though, because my head was really foggy at the office today. I need to get a little better at pacing myself.


    • beckylevine says:

      I have a friend who teaches P.E. at my son’s old elementary school–and her motto is Pace, Don’t Race. Works for writing, too. πŸ™‚


  6. Jenn Hubbard says:

    There’s a common dilemma I often face at this point–whether to go back and rework stuff that I know needs fixing, or forge ahead and fix the other stuff later on.

    I like to back up just a little bit and fix the part that leads into the part I’m going to write next. Get a sort of running start, as it were. (I so seldom get to use the phrase “as it were!”) And then keep going forward.

    Really, though, I tend to work on whichever part I most want to work on–whether that means jumping ahead, going back, or even doing the next scene in order!


    • beckylevine says:

      I try to keep moving forward. At this point in the draft, there’s so much I don’t know, I feel like I’d be guessing when I tried to fix stuff. Hoping I’ll learn/figure out more as I keep going. πŸ™‚


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