Once drafting and revisions are complete, it is time to take a break. Don’t try to push through. This is a critical step.
I personally know the feeling of urgency to get a book done, like the coming on of birthing pains at the end of a pregnancy. As a publisher, a common question we hear from clients who have completed their initial drafts is, “How soon can we get this out?” The typical and, unfortunately, vain hope is to publish within a matter of weeks. However, the best thing to do at this point is to close the document and not touch it at all for a while. For a book manuscript, take at least a month, perhaps even two or more.
By this point in the writing process, we’ve grown incredibly close to our project. It feels like a part of us. But, stepping away for a while allows us to regain perspective and see it clearly again. This is the time to get our minds on something else entirely. When the weeks or months have passed, we can return to our manuscripts refreshed, ready to see what we were blinded to before our break.
Have you ever moved into a new home? Remember the time and effort you took to unpack the boxes and figure out new homes for each piece of furniture. Now, imagine that, soon after moving in and getting settled, you went on a month-long trip. Upon returning, you open the door to see your lovely home, full of potential. But you realize that the couch would actually work a lot better on the other side of the living room. And, the silverware isn’t really in the most accessible drawer. The curtains in the kitchen also seem, somehow, off.
When you return to a manuscript, it’s much the same. You remember the excitement leading up to its realization. All of your important things are inside. But they may need to be rearranged a bit to make the most sense, to be more accessible to your reader. The time spent away from your manuscript allows you the perspective you need to articulate your message in the best possible way.