Restraint: Things to Do When Your Draft Needs to Breathe

I’m not allowing myself to touch The Dreams until May. I’m itching to get back into it, but I spent 16 months with my eyes on this story from the start of the first draft to the posting of the final chapter. The story was at the front of my mind for a very, very long time so I feel the need to separate myself from it for a long time as well.

Some people wait a month or two between drafts with great results. If that’s what works for you, that’s great! It’s all about figuring out what works for you, and for me, I need time to clear the story out of my brain. As long as it is still in my mind I won’t be as objective and I’ll read the story I meant to write rather than the one I did write.

I wrote the final scenes of The Dreams in November 2016. The final chapter was revised in December and posted, oddly enough, on my 29th birthday. The story was still churning around in my mind in January and even in February I still found myself thinking about it most days. It’s becoming less common this month. By May I’m hoping my memories of writing it will be more distant and I’ll be ready to look at it objectively.

I’ve been itching to get back into this story since about two weeks after I posted the final chapter. Restraining myself hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve found a few ways to distract myself from the urge to touch the story.

  1. Read

Reading in and out of my favorite genre is a great way to keep my mind busy with stories other than The Dreams. I read for enjoyment, but I also read to learn how to be a better writer.

2. Write

I started writing Inbetween in November and having a new world to fill my mind has been a great help. It’s much better to write something than to sit on my hands while I wait for enough time to pass. Out of all the methods of distracting myself I’ve tried, this one is both the most effective and most productive.

3. Go outside

This one has been a little difficult during the winter months, but going outside and taking a walk is a great way to clear my mind. Going out also allows me to gain new life experiences and those are so important for writing.

4. Listen to music

This one is a little dangerous. Listening to music is a great way to pass the time, but music is a huge well of inspiration for me. When I listen to music I do run the risk of being inspired to write something and there is a chance that something will be the novel I’m trying to forget.

5. Play with animals

I have two cats and four goldfish. They keep me busy whether I’m writing or not. When I find myself wanting to take a peek at The Dreams, my pets are a great way to resist temptation. My cats love to play and my fish seem to appreciate having their aquarium rearranged from time to time.

6. Watch a new season or movie

I often stream old shows and movies as background noise while I do other things, including writing. When I’m trying not to think about The Dreams, I sometimes pick something new to watch that will occupy my attention.

So far these six things have served me well. I’ve managed to resist temptation for three months since I finished posting The Dreams. With about a month and a half to go, I think I’m going to make it.

What do you do when you’re trying to give a draft time to breathe? Do you find it difficult to resist the urge to dive back in or do you relish your time away from your writing?

 

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