You’ve just worked your socks off getting your work fit for submission. You’ve written, re-written, edited, tweaked, crossed it all out and started again, decided you hated it, fallen in love with it, polished it until it gleamed and finally plucked up the courage to send it somewhere to be judged.
Now all you have to do is wait.
But what do you do while you wait? You could fling yourself into a new project… although now is probably not the best time since your head is still full of the old one. You definitely don’t want to return to the manuscript you’ve just submitted and decide where you’ve CLEARLY GONE WRONG WHAT WERE YOU DOING?! In fact, it’s best if you don’t even think about it. Right now, what you need is distraction. And what should you do to distract yourself? I’m glad you asked:
My Top Ten Distraction Tips:
1. Catch up with all the TV programmes that you’ve had to ignore recently while powering to the ‘writing finish line’. Season finales are particularly good at this point as the ante is upped in a very compulsive, gripping and distracting way.
2. After point 1. take to the internet to see if everyone else agreed with your thoughts on how the stories panned out and what the writers and actors feelings and intentions were. You’re not
just looking up the bio of the hot main character, you’re researching narrative form. I’ve just finished watching Breaking Bad and True Blood and have since found out a lot about Aaron Paul and Alexander Skarsgard how to weave story arcs towards satisfying conclusions.
3. Tackle The Laundry Mountain Of Doom – you never know what you might find at the bottom of it! Remember that fab ‘handwash only’ top that you bought for that wedding three years ago? There it is! Wash it and wear it again! It’s like a shopping trip without the expense or the hassle.
4. Tinker with an old writing project. This doesn’t involve a huge jump into the unknown like a new project does but still keeps your creative muscles flexed. Hopefully you won’t encounter the issue I did when I realised I’d left my last manuscript in the middle of a word – and I quote: “After half an hour’s exploring all she had learned was that thi”. What had she learned? Anyone?
5. Socialise! The last few weeks of a writing project can be pretty intense. You find yourself retreating from the real world a bit, only doing the essentials (talking to the kids, grunting at your other half) and saving all your remaining time and energy for writing. NOW is the time to change your focus – phone your mum/dad/gran, go for coffee with friends and converse with people face to face instead of just (between sentences) on twitter. Let real people – not just your characters – have your attention.
6. Spend some time on the SEO of your blog. This is something that appeals to me only slightly more than dealing with toddler-related poosplosion but apparently it’s a useful thing to pay attention to as a blogger. I figured that trying to get my head round meta-tags and photo optimisation might be a good distraction from my recent submission and I was right. Ok, I admit after an hour of reading and researching I’d done nothing more ‘useful’ than uploading a widget that is so far yielding no results… but I’m sure, for anyone less rubbish at SEO stuff, this would be a valuable activity.
7. Read. Actually, this is my tip for any situation as what could be better than to lose yourself in a fictional world? (Just remember not to be intimidated by the author’s talent, chose to be inspired by it – that could be you!)
8. Go for a walk – while you were focussed on that last chapter it turned into spring out there! Even better, go on a grownup treasure hunt. Set yourself a list (either mental or actual) of things to look out for as you stroll along and that way you’ll focus on the world around you rather than what’s inside your head.
9. Learn how to draw Harry Potter well enough to please a seven-year-old boy, lego ninjas that pass muster with a five-year-old and perfect circles for a toddler. Simultaneously. It’s child-pleasing and skill-set-enhancing in one easy, distracting parcel. Result.
10. Blog about it. Or blog about something else. Ah blogging, the salve for all life’s issues…
There you go – and after a few weeks of such distracting activities you’ll probably be ready for the challenge of a new project. Then when feedback comes it will take you totally by surprise and you can be all: “Oh that manuscript! I’d almost forgotten about it! I’ve been doing something so much more fabulous than that old thing!” thus lessening the blow if you don’t get the feedback you’re after. Maybe.
On that note, I’ve got some writing to attend to.