When I started writing the first draft of my fourth novel (I still can't believe I'm on my fourth!) in March, I set as a goal to finish it by the Fourth of July weekend. Well, I did it! The weekend isn't over yet, and I'm done with the first draft!
This is usually the time when I start editing my manuscript, the part of being an author that I most abhor. However, this time around, I'm going to put it off for a month. I'm not doing this just because I dislike editing. I also want to try a technique that other authors have suggested -- setting aside a first draft because it's still fresh in my mind. The rationale is that if I take a break from the manuscript, then when I look at it again, I'm more likely to spot problems with it. I'm all for trying new ways to improve my writing.
The other reason I'm postponing editing my novel is that I want to try something that I've been thinking of doing for the last year: writing more short fiction. For an unknown author like me, publishing short stories is another avenue to market my body of work. I also have some story ideas that I haven't written because there isn't enough to turn them into a novel, but they're well suited for a short story or novella. It's time to give one of those ideas the chance to see the light of day.
My intention is to spend a month or so working on a short story, publish it, and then go back to editing my novel. Not only will I have added another book to my writing resume, but I also hope that the time off will make me a better critic of my novel in progress.