Sunday, December 11, 2011

No-Editing December

It seems like the trend for post NaNoWriMo advice (i.e., first week of December--I finished my NaNo project--now what do I do?) is to start editing.

I'm going to avoid that bandwagon and say something completely different.

If you finished your NaNo project in November, don't start editing in December.

Let it rest.

That's right. Ignore it. Enjoy your holidays and bask in the glow of your accomplishment. Don't even look at that manuscript until after New Year's Day. Why? Because immediately after you finish a manuscript is not the idea time to start editing.

Think about it. You've just spent a full month so deep in that project you probably dreamed about it every night. Everything that happened, you can still feel. Your mouth still tastes like the nasty hangover your hero had in Chapter Twelve. In short, you're still in writing mode.

To edit effectively, you need to be in editing mode. Editing requires objectivity, and five minutes after you write "THE END" on the last page of your manuscript, you don't have any objectivity about the story. Not yet.

It might seem like overkill to let the manuscript sit for a full month, but with December being painfully hectic for most people, it really isn't. Under other circumstances, a couple of weeks might do it, but let's face it--December is going to feel like it only lasted a couple of weeks once we get done eating all that damn fruitcake (or whatever you do to celebrate the winter holidays--even if you don't celebrate, December is still a ginormous emotional mess because everyone else is running around like idiots buying presents). So let it rest. Think about it. Roll it around in your head to see if new ideas fall out. Then, once the calendar has switched over to 2012, pull it out and start reading through it with a clear head. Your editing brain will be much more likely to provide the distance you need.

If you haven't finished your manuscript, keep writing. And then, when you do finish, take the time to get that rest and distance before you jump into your editing phase.

As for me, I just started notebook number three. I still don't know how much farther I have to go before I finish this fictional journey, but I have a lot of Post-It notes guiding the way.

And while you're letting your manuscripts rest, I'm going to let this blog rest until after the first of the year, when I have some new surprises and adventures planned.