Last week, I turned in my romantic comedy manuscript to my developmental editor and solemnly swore not to touch it until I get it back from her. This is a challenge because if you’ve ever written anything you know there’s no such thing as “done.” You end up with a million “FINAL DRAFTS” on your computer and none of them seem “finished” when you open the stupid things back up again. But getting time away from a manuscript is essential for the editorial process. And I know that…on some level. At least, my brain knows that…
A manuscript vacation is often the best thing for it. You’ll come back to it all tanned and well-rested, finding sand in—yeah, I sort of overdid that metaphor there. BUT the point remains. Take a vacation from your manuscript, and it will make all the difference.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Perspective: When you’re in the weeds in your draft, you can get stuck in all the individual plot points. Taking a break can help you see the big picture. It’s easier to know what should be cut and what you need to keep after a little time and distance.
2. Copy-editing: The brain is a mysterious thing, and sometimes we can know our sentences so well we fill in the missing words and can’t see typos anymore. Give yourself some space, and you’ll be shocked at what you catch during your next pass.
3. “Mental” writing: During your manuscript vacation, you can ALWAYS engage in the “mental labor” of writing. Think through your plot. Think through your characters. Enneagram them. Myers-Briggs them. Take time to examine their core qualities, so you can bring these analyses into your next draft. It will help your characters and plot become real to you.
4. Focus on Craft: When I read about writing craft in between drafts, it gives me a new lens to look at my book. I love THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION by Donald Maass and UNDERSTANDING SHOW DON’T TELL by Janice Hardy. I've learned a TON from both. Take a webinar or do a MasterClass. Taking time to improve your writing will pay-off.
5. READ IN YOUR GENRE! It can be difficult to focus on other books when you are deep in draft-mode (which is basically BEAST mode, but for authors), but staying up-to-date on current trends and new releases will help you know how to market your manuscript. It will also help you see what you like and what you don’t like.
Happy writing, everyone!