4 things to do after you finish writing a novel

Categories Blog, Writer's Life
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Before I get into today’s blog post, I want to remind everyone (as if you could forget) that today is Election Day in the U.S. Please, if you haven’t already and are able, go out and vote today (safely!) and let your voice be heard. Seriously. Even if you think it doesn’t matter, even if the Electoral College sometimes outweighs the choice of the American people, do not let that keep you from fighting. 

Okay, now onto writing. 

I am terrible at chilling after I finish writing a novel. Whenever I type that last word, hit that last save, I immediately begin thinking, “What’s next?” I’m not a very patient person, and it’s only gotten worse with age (I’m working on it), so resting when my work is done is not really my forte. 

But that’s exactly what I did when I finished my novel The Marked Ones earlier this year. I rested. For a whole summer, instead of writing I read, I cleaned, I listened to great music, I breathed, I LIVED. I found, without writing, I had many hours in a day to do what I really wanted—because no one hates writing more than writers, amiright? 

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Sometimes it was hard. I had a few ideas bouncing around, wanting to take form on a page, and I couldn’t resist jotting down some notes. For the most part, though, I enjoyed my time away from word documents and red pen edits. If you’re like me, and you usually leap head first into a new project after finishing a big one, here are a few things you can do instead to slow down a bit. 

Reward yourself 

For real, you just finished something huge! Whether it’s a book, a screenplay, or something else long and dauntless, you deserve a treat. Personally, I love rewarding myself with dinner at a nice restaurant, but this year has made that a little difficult so I made do with takeout and Hulu (still pretty nice). 

If you’re in the position to do something indulgent, do it! Get a mani-pedi, or a new outfit, go on a trip (safely), or any number of things that will bring you joy. When you’ve accomplished a feat as great as polishing and perfecting an original work, the sky should be the limit. 

Play catch up 

I mentioned reading and cleaning above, and that’s because I was neglecting both activities. My TBR pile grew to mountainous proportions and the shampoo graveyard beneath my bathroom sink was beginning to get scary. So I used my new free time to catch up on both, and let me just say, my apartment is as sparkling as the Twilight vampires I spent months reading about. 

If you’ve got something on your to do list, something you’ve been putting off because you don’t want to break away from your writing for even an hour to deal with it, now is the time. And if it’s an unpleasant task, like cleaning was for me, pair it with something fun. Something else on my to do list was listen to all the Chatty Broads episodes, and honestly, laughing along with those two hosts makes even scrubbing mold bearable. 

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Wrap up loose ends with your project 

Even when you’re “done,” you’re not “done done” with a project. Because, if your goal is publication, that is a whole other feat. So for me, wrapping up loose ends involved writing query letters, synopses, and researching literary agents until they felt like best friends. 

That might be what your loose ends look like. Or maybe you want to submit to a small press, or if you have a screenplay maybe you’re looking for a film company to reach out to (not sure how that all works tbh). Whatever it looks like, don’t get too stressed. Your part is over, the work is written. Even if you write the most amazing query ever, it’s out of your hands what happens next. 

Think LIGHTLY about your next project 

I said in the intro that I couldn’t resist writing down a few ideas during my hiatus. But that’s okay! Brainstorming is fun and low stress. I definitely didn’t get bogged down in details, or try to outline a new work. But by the time I was ready to start working again, I had a long list of ideas to navigate from, which helped me plan out my NaNoWriMo project (for my six NaNoWriMo writing day essentials, check out this link).

But even if your “writing” during this period of rest comes to nothing, that’s okay, too! I looked at this summer as time to get my bearings in my writing life, and that involved some journaling as well as brainstorming. Not everything we write has to have a purpose—or, rather, it’s okay if its purpose is just to keep you sane. 

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It’s important to have periods of rest and relaxation between big projects, and I’m glad that I took this summer to give myself that, especially since I’ve been stressed out to the max every day since August. I’m sure if I hadn’t had a few months of rest, this period of life would crush me. 

So, rest if you need it, but if you’re feeling productive, happy writing! And GO VOTE!  

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