So you did Nanowrimo! Huzzah!!
Or maybe you didn’t do Nano, but you now have a rough draft—maybe a very, very, very rough draft— of your book or script. Huzzah!!
First of all, Take a break. If at all possible, when you’ve finished a first draft, take a break of not just days, but a couple of weeks.
You should keep to a writing schedule, start brainstorming the next project, maybe do some random collaging to see what images come up that might lead to something fantastic.
But if you have a completed draft, then what you need most of all is SPACE from it. You are going to need fresh eyes to do the read-through that is going to take you to the next level, and the only way for you to get those fresh eyes is to leave the story alone for a while.
In the meantime, it is very useful to think about and write out what you learned about your writing process during that Nano month: your most productive hours of writing; your optimum number of words, pages or hours to spend writing per day; any tricks you’ve devised to get writing and keep writing and to keep partners, children and pets out of your hair. Were you part of a support group? Did it help? If you weren’t, would it help to have a group or a writing buddy/critique partner?
And if you still haven’t gotten through to “The End” then my advice is always—Keep going. You must get through to The End, no matter how rough it is (rough meaning the process AND the pages…). Definitely take a day or two to celebrate the month you just accomplished. You can slow down your schedule, set a lower per-day word or page count, but do not stop. Write every day, or every other day if that’s your schedule, but get the sucker done.
You may end up throwing away a lot of what you write, but it is a really, really, really bad idea not to get all the way through a story. That is how most books, scripts and probably most all other things in life worth doing are abandoned.
But once you have bashed through to the end of your opus, and have that dreaded first draft done…
Now comes the fun part. At least, I think so! No matter how hard the subsequent drafts may be, nothing is ever as hard as that sucky first draft.
But whoever said “Writing is re-writing” was oh-so-right.