What? You don’t put yours away? Why not?
I don’t either.
Well, in all honesty, I didn’t. However, I’m an impatient little prat.
Everything I’ve read, every interview I’ve heard from professional authors and editors, and every time someone on a panel brings up the question “What should I do now that I finished my first draft?” the answer usually comes back with one of the two remarks:
Put it away for a month.
Pour yourself a stiff drink.
I’m not much for the drinking bit, so the past few stories went into my “ignore” folder. Amazing things happen in that folder. Things I never dreamed about.
Apparently, grammar fairies flutter into the document and play GTA with the writing, driving into walls and killing hookers. The “Terrible Plot Twist” Gang from Chicago decides to come by and car-jack everything so it looks like I forgot to take my Topamax. And most of the conversational dialog lines could fit nicely into a “Two and a Half Men” skit and make it worse…if that’s even possible…
So yes, please, shelf your book. Your brain will thank you later.
In the meantime, write something you haven’t written before, maybe try something new – like erotica or superhero crime capers. Better yet, mix the two together: Erotic Superhero Crime!
The point is to give the analytical side of your brain a break, and let the creative side out before attempting to edit the manuscript. A short story, set in a different world, breaks the pacing of this wavelength with a gentle tug. Once the short story or flash fiction (whatever you decide is enough) completes itself, come back to the manuscript with fresh eyes and start taking things apart, deducing and dissecting the pieces to make it stronger. Focus on the bigger story arc, bridging the smaller arcs around the larger one and make everything concise.
With a fresh brain, this make much easier work. It sounds silly, but trust me, it works.
So shove it somewhere, remember where you shoved it, and come back in a bit with a clear head.
And cut it into tiny pieces.