What to do when you’ve finished your book

Typing The End after spending months or even years writing a book is an exciting, thrilling thing. But when it’s done, what do you do?

After celebrating with a nice dinner and good bottle of wine, if you’re like me, you want to scroll all the way back up to page 1 and start revising. But WAIT!

You’ve had these characters and this story floating around in your head for all these months, and although you’re going to miss being around them for a little while, you’ll gain more if you keep a bit of distance.

Because we have the story in our heads so much, if we re-read it now, we’ll most likely follow along the same paths we took in our first draft, because it’s familiar. But if we wait, at least two weeks but preferably a month or two, we have the opportunity to see the story fresh in a new light. And with that, we have the opportunity to take the story to a new level of creativity, in the action, dialog and words.

At a seminar I attended years ago, one thing has stayed with me: Never settle for your first idea. The more ways you think about writing a scene, a line of dialog or a description, the more it’ll be your own.

Ever seen a movie trailer or read about a book and thought, Hey, that’s like my idea? As the seminar speaker reminded us, people often have the same ideas — I don’t know why, perhaps because we all have similar experiences that we get our ideas from.

As that is true, to make our work as creative and our own as possible, we need to dig down to the fifth or sixth, even tenth idea of how to do that scene, line of dialog or description.

Digging down to deeper creativity, will also give our work that strong voice we always here about — our voice — and make our work stand out in comparison to all the other manuscripts trying to find an agent and/or editor. Especially in the current economy, when both agents and publishing houses are being more choosy about which books to invest time and money in, standing out is all the more important.

So, what to do when you’ve finished your book? Start on your next. You don’t have to finish it before you go back to researching your last book. You don’t even have to start writing, but start thinking, start researching, start planning. Let new ideas and characters float around in your head. Get as prepared as you can be, then take a break, and do your revision. Getting your mind focused on something else will help make you that much fresher when you go back to the revision, and this preparation time will make you ready to roll when you’re done with your revisions and can move onto your next project.

What are you working on?

Write On!


2 Responses

  1. Great, great post! I love the advice to go with your “fifth, sixth, or even tenth” idea for scenes, and to not settle with mediocre seen-it-before writing. Thanks 🙂

  2. Thanks, OwlandSparrow. In the seminar I went to, the speaker said loads of people will have the first idea, less the second, etc. So the more you dig down, the more you’re likely to have an idea someone else hasn’t yet. I not easy to do, but I think it’s worth it.

What do you think?