What to do when you finish writing a story

13 Apr 2022 | The Writing Process

Typing “The End” when you finish writing a story is as satisfying as running into the surf when you’ve just crossed a beach’s burning hot sand.

It’s only natural to think “what’s next?”once the pain and pleasure have worn off,

Sure, you’ve finished the story.

But you know there’s more work to be done deep down, .

Do you dive in straight away and fight your way past the breakers? Or stay in the shallows for a while and relax?

Choose your own adventure.

But this is what I’m doing…

David Allan-Petale

Looking back on all the notes is a fun way to reconnect with your writing project.

Put the story away – but keep working


Having just finished draft number 6 (yes, that many!) I’ve come to this awkward stage of the writing process for my new book,

My usual process is to read over the draft, note the faults, then burn it and start again with improvements in mind.

But this time I’m keeping the draft safe from matches. Because it’s the one I’m going to polish toward (hopefully) publication.

That’s a big job.

One that will require focus over an extended period.

So, my priority is to take a break from the book – but not from writing work.

I’m switching to writing some short stories and an essay, and when those are done, I’ll get back to the MS.

That way I keep the writing muscles in trim, but also clear my mind for the work ahead.

This is the same tactic that I used for creating Locust Summer – always having something on the go, so the writing momentum is maintained.

Give the story to a trusted reader


I am giving the book to my first reader – my wife Carmen – who will give me honest feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

Aside from a few people who have read early extracts, she will be the only person I have shown the full work to so far.

This is because:

David Allan-Petale

Good advice.

Because I am happy with its trajectory I’m comfortable giving the whole work to someone else to read,

But never before.

The exclusivity of connection between the work and the artist is sacred.

Share it carefully, and with intention.

Go easy on yourself when you finish writing a story…


Well done.

Pop champagne. Go for a walk on the beach. Whatever you do to reward yourself, do.

Finishing something is an obvious but also deeply important part of the creative process. When I think of all the stories I have started but never finished, I shudder.

But the ones I finished are the ones I reworked. And those are the ones I’m proud of.

So, if you finish a story and think it sucks, good. If you think it needs to be rewritten, good.

You finished something, so enjoy the moment.

Then decide the path ahead that beat suits your practise, and go again. You’ll know when it’s really finished.

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