I finished NaNoWriMo on 30 November last year and felt unstoppable. Exhausted, but inspired. I felt I could continue the same pace and edit through December, query in January and be onto the next manuscript in February.
While that may have been an achievable time frame in some distant period in my life, with two kids, study, work, volunteering, and only a short 24 hours in a day, things did not go to plan…
After December rolled by and I hadn’t opened my manuscript, I rationalised to myself, ‘it’s OK, I’m letting the manuscript marinate for a while’. I’ve heard of this- taking a step away from it, waiting for a short period before revisiting it. I used this theory as almost an excuse for the following two months, although not believing it, just to make myself feel better as my grand plan slipped away.
Consequently, four- almost five- months later, I do see the value in taking a step back from my manuscript. In this time, I’ve read a few books. While they’ve not been in the same genre, I’ve reflected on what I liked about them, what I didn’t like. I’ve related these lessons learned to my own work.
If I had followed my timeline and managed to edit my manuscript in December, I’m very confident it would have been a spelling / grammar, timeline logic check type of edit. I was so proud of finishing my 80,000 words that I was too close to it to make serious changes.
Months later, I feel I can slash and burn! I need to put more description and thought into my baddies, understand the events from their point of view. I need to ‘show, don’t tell’ more, I need to make the struggle harder for my main character- more needs to go wrong, she needs more of a fight- and she needs more flaws!
One of the fantastic books I read recently made me sit on the edge of my seat and bite my nails wondering if the main character was going to be found out, things got close, the struggle was hard, things went wrong, it made me want to keep turning the pages even though it was 2:00am. I want that from my book too.
This time of reflection, of space from my manuscript, of learning through reading other work, has been valuable and important to my work. Even though I was feeling ‘behind schedule’, I will have a better finished product at the end of the day.
Now I can finally say it: #amediting.
Watch out for my novel, released some time in 2058, maybe.
I’d love to hear how your writing is going. Who’s editing now? Do you find that time away from your manuscript helps with your editing process, or does it mean you lose momentum?