It took precisely 5 days and 23 hours after finishing the first draft of my novel before I lost the plot and felt like a rudderless ship. I know (stamps foot and pouts) I need to rest my manuscript. I’ve heard it said enough times to know it’s wise advice and that I have to do it (for as long as I can, which wont be that long).
But how do I cope in the mean time? I mean WHAT DO I DO NOW? I have spent the last year of my life pouring my soul into 400 pages of what is probably utter drivel. I have bled, cried and got finger blisters over this manuscript. So now….What am I meant to do now? It’s all over. The hard copy of the manuscript is sitting in the corner of my livingroom collecting dust whilst I try and be a good girl and not touch it…. LET ME EDIT, LET ME EDIT, LET ME EDIT.
Ok. Fine. I’ll behave. I guess I am not the sort of person who is able to… you know… rest, relax… do anything other than burn the candle at both ends and in the middle. So here, are my top tips for preventing insanity while you rest your manuscript.1. Bask in the glory of finishing your manuscript.
That’s right, sun your self people. Let the radiant heat of words typed at speed flow over you. You smashed it. I mean hello…? You just finished an ENORMOUS task. It’s a colossal achievement. Doesn’t matter if it’s your first book or your one hundred and first book. You did it. You just succeeded at a seriously difficult job. Too often we don’t celebrate. We’re not kind to ourselves and we don’t relish the fact we have smashed whatever task it is we have done. We hurry off to the next book, or competition entry or whatever else.
No. Stop that. Take note. Crack open the champers, or prosecco or dairy milk… you deserve it, you’re AWESOME.
It’s an obvious one, and utterly impossible for me. I have to force relaxation on myself, usually by shutting myself in a dark cinema where I’m not allowed to do anything other than sit and quietly watch the film. Mrs. Black would rather visit a spa…
Whether it’s vegetating in front of a boxset or beasting yourself in the gym, you need to rest your mind. Especially if you want to get the best out of it when you start to edit.
3. Speak to your family and friends, be social (haha)
God I am terrible for this. I never do anything unless I am doing it 110%. Which means I’m selfish an horrible and throw myself into the world I am creating at that time. So Mrs. Black, gets a little neglected. Now is the time for me to get on my hands and needs and grovel…
It’s time to live life, take her to the theatre or that museum she’s been hanging on about, or just have a snuggle on the sofa in front of a film rather than cuddling my laptop all night. Why not call your friends, go for a pint, go clubbing or just catch up over dinner.
4. Start new projects
There’s lots of things that come under this:
Maybe you have always wanted to do a blog series. Or perhaps you have been wanting to enter some competitions. Maybe you want to write some short stories for a magazine. What about getting some cover art designed for your book. Even if you get traditionally published it’s nice to have the cover you want, besides you can use it to promote your book sooner rather than later. Or what about giving back, maybe you could beta read for someone else.
Whatever it is now is the time to start that new writing project. You need to rest your manuscript for a while, so you may as well try and complete some of those side projects you’ve been putting off.
5. Start book two
Are you writing a series? A trilogy? Or perhaps you have another completely different book you have been wanting to write. Nows the time. If you are resting your primary manuscript then the time is right to throw yourself into something completely new. If you are writing a series, then why not start the next one? It means the gap between publishing the first and second will be significantly shorter. If you don’t want to fill your head too much with a new book then why not just outline it? Or do some character prep for new characters. Or do some research and build a list of competitions to enter.
6. Life admin
Are there ever things you desperately need to do and never find time? Maybe its put that shelf up, or visit the post office, maybe you need to submit meter readings, go through that alarmingly large pile of post, or that draw where you shove everything you want to deal with later, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to buy a present for a friends new born… that’s now 6 months old!
I call this life admin. Those things that aren’t really urgent, but do need to be done. I tend to leave it until there’s so many things I need to do they clog my head and I have no choice. This is the perfect opportunity.
As well as being a full time worker and a mum, I write and do the occasional set of nails for people, that’s all besides the upkeep of the house, trying to exercise when I can, trying to keep up with everyones blog posts and maintaining some kind of social life.
Reading, despite being one of my favourite past times gets put to the bottom of the list in favour of time spent writing. When I am mid flow on a manuscript instead of reading a few chapters a night I tend to only have time to read a few pages. I am painfully slow, so much so its annoying. So now is the time I focus on catching up on all those books I’ve been meaning to read…and leaving reviews too.
8. Do something different
This is everything else. Exercise is important, I tend to get a bit chunky when I write, giving time to the computer rather than the workout dvd. But why not try something different, take up rock climbing, or hill walking or go karting.
go travelling, or canoeing, or museum visiting. Whatever you do, get out the house, leave the laptop behind and live, before you know it it will be time to get your head back down behind the screen.
What are your top suggestions for me, whilst I rest my manuscript? What do you do? Let me know in the comments below.