Draft Two of Your Book: How to Know It’s Time

How to bring your book to life

Keri Mangis

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, and regardless of your genre, moving from the conception of an idea to a finished book can be a long, grueling process.

There are several questions to ask oneself as you move from the first draft to a completed book. For this article, let’s focus on the questions that need to be asked at the turn from the first draft to the second. For instance:

  • When it’s time to stop editing, fine-tuning, and otherwise tinkering with your first draft
  • How much time should pass between the writing of the first and the start of the second (or subsequent) drafts
  • What to think about as you pivot

As this is the exact pivot moment I’m at in the development of my second book, I’m currently facing these questions. As I always do, I have been advising with trusted fellow writers and editors, and have come away with some suggestions and inspiration I thought I’d share.

First of all, let’s define what the purpose of a first draft is. That will help us better identify when that purpose has been met.

Purpose of a First Draft

A first draft is first and foremost about getting the content and ideas down on paper. It’s a collection of brainstorming sessions in which every idea and remotest possibility gets a chance to express itself. You may begin with a general idea of what order the stories or information belong in, but you might not know the entire scope yet. Similarly, you might be testing out some titles/subtitles, but hang on to those loosely, as there is the slimmest of possibilities it will hold until publishing.

Anne Lamott coined the phrase “shitty first draft”, or SFD, in her book, Bird by Bird, for a reason. This first draft is not meant to be pretty to read, or, really, for anyone else’s eyes (except for maybe a writing partner or two).

“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through…

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Keri Mangis

Keri Mangis is an award-winning author, teacher, and speaker.