One Writer’s Journey

August 1, 2014

What to do when you’ve finished your first manuscript

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:18 am
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Cooling OffLet your manuscript cool before you submit.

We’ve heard the advice but the recommended cooling off period varies.   Some people say a few days.  Some people say a month.

If you are a new writer, a month is a must.  Take some time of from your precious manuscript so that, when you next read it, it will be with fresh eyes.  While you wait out that month, write another manuscript.

Yes.  You read that right.

Write another manuscript.  I’m not saying that if your first manuscript is a novel, you need to write another entire novel in four weeks.  Write a short story with the same characters.  Write an article based on something you had to research to complete the first manuscript.  Whatever.  There are three very important reasons for you to write something new.

  1. One of the best ways to learn about writing is by writing.  Words come more easily when you develop the writing habit.  You learn to plot and to organize.  Your sentences sharpen up.  Your word choices sparkle.  Practice, as the saying goes, makes perfect.
  2. You’re trying to push project #1 out of your mind.  Time will help with this process but so will focusing on something else.  Instead of obsessing about your plot problems or potentially weak characterization, you’ll be thinking about the ins and outs of a whole new story.  Fill your mind with this new work and the old one will grow a bit distant which is exactly what you want to accomplish before returning to it.
  3. Don’t put all of your hopes in one manuscript.  Writers who pin all of their hopes on their one and only manuscript, do not receive critique well.  They don’t have the writing experience of other writers and all of their hopes are in this one manuscript.  If it is less than perfect, if they have no hope to sell it, all that time was wasted.  These are very often the writers who come off as desperate and a bit frantic in public critique.

Take a break from your WIP.  Start something new.  When you do, you will gain experience and perspective both of which will help you hone the original manuscript as you approach it with new eyes.



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