Friday, May 29, 2015

Why You Should Let Your Novel Rest



Letting your novel rest sounds easy, doesn't it?  But for me, it has been an exercise in self-restraint, especially because I long to see my book published.  Letting my novel rest is only going to push back that goal.  This being said, it's been over one month since I stepped away from my story and sent it out to beta readers.

At first, I was elated because I had finally--after three years of writing, rewriting, editing, and getting feedback for the first dozen chapters--reached the point where I felt that my novel was "complete" and ready to move on to the next phase.  The instant I hit the "send" button on that email to my beta readers, I felt, for the first time, truly accomplished.  It was an amazing feeling and I recommend every writer celebrate that moment, because the thrill of excitement at having finished my first novel (a meaty 115K words) is something I will never forget.

The Breakdown

Two Weeks In:  

Avoiding my novel for the first two weeks was easy peasy, because I could now turn my attention to other projects without feeling like I was taking time away from writing.

Third Week:


The urge to read my story would start to creep up, flutter like a butterfly to a flower, and then, just as quickly, fly away.

Fourth Week:

I found myself making excuses for why I needed to look at my story.  But I held out.  Though the temptation to give in to the dark side was ever-present.  Knowing that I could bring up my story on my phone at any time did not help.

Fifth Week:

At this point, something unexpected happened.  I began to think about my story in an introspective manner and felt less inclined to actually read it, because I was enjoying recalling the scenes from memory.  I would find myself thinking about my world-building the way you think about a place you vacationed at, and which you remembered fondly.

I began to think about my characters and their habits, such as how they interacted with each other and how certain characters' actions directly impacted others, be it in a positive or negative way.  I also began to realize that a certain theme in my book was much more vital to the story than I had realized, and that it helps define the protagonist's actions.  I also thought about specific sections of my book that I felt could be presented better, including the beginning of the first chapter--something of an important part, as you might expect.

So, here is what I feel are the reasons why you should step away from your novel.




In short, my mind had done a lot of wandering but, overall, I now feel confident that I will be able to approach my novel with a critical eye.  I also feel that, once my beta readers give me their feedback, I will be able to better discuss and analyze their opinions without my judgment being too clouded.

How long you should let your novel rest is up to you.  Waiting just over a month is something that I feel has worked for me.  I know it's hard to wait.  Trust me, I know.  But I feel that this self-imposed resting period had only benefited my story.

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