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What To Do When You Finish Your Book, or Story, or Article, etc

I just sent my fifth draft to my editor.  Five!  And while I have to say that it’s been enjoyable, I was thrilled to see that sucker vanish into the mail.  I won’t have to do anything with it for a couple of weeks.

Let me tell you what I did in this most recent draft, and then I’ll tell you the point of this post:

  • Deleted about 30,000 words
  • Read every sentence out loud at least five times
  • Moved the strongest words to the beginning or ending of every sentence, when appropriate
  • Shortened sentences
  • Deleted chapter 12 and wrote a brand new one on a completely different subject
  • Conducted a dozen interviews with people in the book, double-checking their statements and comparing memories
  • More

So here’s the point: by the time I sent it off, I was exhausted by the task and mildly sick of the book. But I want it to be as good as possible so I’ll be ready for another go by the time I get it back.

But I wasn’t sick of writing, and by writing, I mean the type of writing I was doing in the book: book quality writing, from the crappy first draft to the grueling pleasures of revising and seeing every paragraph improve.

I’m hooked.  Even though I love this blog and I look forward to it every day, I guarantee you that these sentences don’t go through the scrutiny of a manuscript.

So, what do you do when you’ve finished writing?  You could put your feet up, get a well-deserved rest, go for a hike, read!, and think about other things.

Or, since you’re a writer, you could get started on the next book, or story, or article, which is exactly what I’ve done.

That manuscript has been out of my hands for three days now.  In that time I’ve written the first chapter of the next book.  It’s been a blast.  It’s fresh and new and it has reminded me all over again why I love to write.

There are only so many days in your life.  The more days you spend not writing, the fewer days you have left to write.

It’s not easy, but it is that simple.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew Blackman August 13, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I hate editing! It’s sadly necessary, though, and you’re right that there is a certain pleasure to be had from seeing the manuscript reach book quality writing. I’m the same, always impatient to start the next thing. I promise myself a break, but find myself plunging into my next idea. I need the break more when I’m in the middle, especially in the middle of editing. But once it’s done, I feel free, and can’t wait to start something else. Thanks for sharing a bit of your process, and look forward to reading the book when it comes out. Hope this is the final draft now!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 13, 2012, 6:09 pm

      I hope so too, but I think we’ve still got some work to do. Contract says “publishable manuscript” by November 1. It may very well get worked on every day between now and then, and even then, I know I’ll always see things that could have been better. Or worse!

  • Gustavo August 14, 2012, 7:46 am

    Man! My book (almost finished) is 28.000 words long; meaning that, after editing, I will have a negative 2.000 words left. Where do these words come from? There you have it: quantum mechanics at its best.