So. Now what?
Do you dive into editing? Start a new project? Do you start looking up literary agents? Do you click print and send the whole 400 pages to every publishing house in the country?
The answers to some of those questions (like the last one) should be obvious. But others probably aren't.
While it can be super tempting to immediately dive into editing, I think taking a breather is wise.
Stephen King suggests "at least 6 weeks." When I can (read: when I'm not on a fast-approaching deadline) that's advice to which I pay serious attention.
Giving yourself 6 weeks away from your manuscript enhances your ability to edit. By the time 6 weeks is up, I find I've nearly forgotten everything this story is supposed to be about. Which is good, because that means the blinders have fallen away, and I can read the story for what it is.
It's HARD to wait 6 weeks, and it's good if you can have someone keep you accountable. 7 years ago, I finished a manuscript and put it away. My friend Lindsey asked me what my next step was going to be.
"Stephen King says to put manuscripts away for 6 weeks, so that's what I'm doing!" I told her, super excited to feel like such a real writer. I marked the date on my calendar for 6 weeks later - Start edits on Clarity! - and went on my way.
A week later, I couldn't take it any more. I opened the file and began to read.
Lindsey called me that night and could tell I was down. "What's wrong?" she said.
"I read the first couple chapters of my book. They're horrible!"
"Stephanie - you said 6 weeks. Put it away!"
She was right. Five weeks later when I opened it up, the writing still sucked, but it wasn't nearly as troubling to me. Why? Because I'd had some separation from all the hard work. I wasn't sitting there dwelling on how I'd slaved away at this manuscript for over 6 months and it was garbage.
I'd had 6 weeks off, which meant I was rejuvenated and could edit more effectively.
Should you work on another project during your time off? Sure! If it sounds fun, go for it. Stephen King says he writes short stories during his 6 weeks. I'm not a short story girl, so I usually put together a book proposal for some other book idea that's been wiggling around in my brain.
Take time to replenish your inner-artist. Reread your favorite book. Walk around an art museum. Watch good movies. You'll reap the rewards big time when you launch into your edits.
Which we'll discuss next week. Have a great weekend everyone!