As you look over your book, you discover it’s not everything you want it to be. There are words missing – sentence errors, passages where you no longer understand what you were trying to say. But you’re tired. And you don’t know where to go next.
This is the feeling that almost every author who has finished a first draft of a book experiences. Writing a book is exhausting. After you’ve completed the initial manuscript, you will likely feel a measure of brain fatigue. You might be desperate to publish the novel you’ve just penned, but you don’t know how to get there.
First things first.
1. Take a break.
Though I personally like the book to be somewhat fresh in my mind for the editing process, I’ve also seen the importance of taking a break, even if it’s just for a week. Step away from what you’ve done. Don’t spend ages looking over it. Do something else. Refresh yourself. Read someone else’s book. Listen to some music or go somewhere special. When you’ve used a large amount of creativity, you will likely need to replenish your stores.
2. Come back.
Taking a break isn’t an opportunity to give up on the writing. Return to your work once you are refreshed and endeavour to get the big picture of what you’ve created.
3. Focus on the simple things.
Before you pitch headlong into the editing process, take some time to make sure that each chapter heading accurately represents its content. Give the book page numbers. Conceive a title if you haven’t already. Insert any forgotten scenes if you discover places where there are leaps in logic. At this stage, I normally separate the book into chapters, title it, figure out a dedication, format the book so that it’s easy to read when I edit it, and then fill in any odd gaps with necessary scenes that I didn’t get round to writing the first time.
This period is the bridge into your editing process. Make the most of it. Take some time to enjoy the triumph of finishing your book. Make it look pretty. And regenerate yourself for the work ahead.