Finishing a manuscript is never quite how I expect it to be. Elation wars with exhaustion; I always think I’ll want to shout to the world that I finished my book (for now at least, knowing inevitable revisions are coming) but I usually end up just going to sleep.
During the final push of getting the story written down, I like to cheer myself on with daydreams of all the fun things I’ll have time to do once this book is done. But once it is, the allure of that freedom comes with a nostalgic tug to return to the characters and the story. Much as I’m excited to have free time again, I miss them and I want to go back to that world.
Anyway, I’ve completed several novels by this point, and I’ve accepted that this rocking tide of emotions is part of the process of letting go and refilling the creative well. After spending months, or even years, with the voices of the characters echoing in my thoughts, their settings imprinted on the back of my eyelids, it takes time to shift to a more distant perspective
. A self-imposed exile from that world creates the space that’s needed to be able to tackle the impending revisions. During the time it takes to drift a little ways apart from the manuscript, I also need to recharge my creativity. Much as I might feel eager to leap into the next project sprouting in my imagination, I know I’ll do a better job if I wait until I can start fresh, and I bet other writers are the same. I can’t be the only workaholic who has to force myself to take a break, right?
So what can you do to recharge your creativity? Anything that makes you feel intrigued, challenged, relaxed, or inspired. I’ve got a list of suggestions, based on things I like to do when I’m puttering around, feeling lost between manuscripts, and I’d love to see other people’s suggestions, too!
Read to your heart’s desire. Read old favorites, explore a new genre, devour an entire series. Read in the sunshine with tea, or stay up all night with the blankets cuddled around you. Whatever you feel like, but you’ve worked hard on your own words and now’s the time to luxuriate in someone else’s.
Try something new. I’d never done a jigsaw puzzle before, and post-first draft seemed like the perfect time. (Turns out it’s actually a good way to mull out plot points for your next WIP, too). Maybe you’d rather download an app to study a language, or learn to bake, or try painting. Art other than writing can be fun (there’s no pressure!) and very fulfilling.
Get moving. Maybe you’ve been thinking of trying a barre or yoga class. Perhaps you’ve been putting off painting your bathroom for almost year (okay, me – but it’s done now!) This doesn’t have to be complicated, either – finding a new walking path or even just strolling along a familiar one is a great way to refresh your thoughts.
Write – or don’t. Sometimes it’s nice to have a complete break from writing. Other times, it’s impossible to give it up. If you do write, my suggestion would be to try something new though. Write an article, or a poem, or a short story. Give yourself that break from a novel.
Spend time with family and friends. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been a bit off the grid for the last few weeks of finishing that book. Now it’s time to catch up with everyone.
Whatever works best for you to recharge your creativity between books, do try to make it a priority. I’m a firm believer that having a break to refresh your thoughts will help the editing process, and prevent your next manuscript dragging the way it might if you wade in too quickly. Besides, we live to write, not the other way around – enjoying aspects of life are just going to make your writing better.
Meghan Masterson graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies, and has worked several unrelated jobs while writing on the side. As a child, she gave her parents a flowery story about horses every year for Christmas. Thankfully, she has expanded her work past tales of equine perfection and thinly veiled Nancy Drew retellings, and is now mainly interested in writing historical fiction. She is drawn to strong historical figures and unique situations in history, which present unexpected opportunities and dilemmas for her characters. Meghan’s other interests include reading at all hours (even at breakfast), cooking, and going for walks with her dog. She and her husband live in Calgary, Alberta.
Find out more about her on her website http://meghanmastersonauthor.com/
THE WARDROBE MISTRESS is Meghan Masterson’s fascinating and visceral debut, an inside look at Marie Antoinette’s luxurious life in Versailles remarkably juxtaposed against life in third estate as the French Revolution gains strength. A propulsive exploration of love, loyalty, danger, and intrigue…not to be missed.
It’s Giselle Aubry’s first time at court in Versailles. At sixteen, she is one of Marie Antoinette’s newest undertirewomen, and in awe of the glamorous queen and her opulent palace life. A budding designer, it’s a dream come true to work with the beautiful fabrics and jewels in the queen’s wardrobe. But every few weeks she returns home to visit her family in Paris where rumors of revolution are growing stronger.
From her position working in the royal household, Giselle is poised to see both sides of the revolutionary tensions erupting throughout Paris. When her uncle, a retired member of the secret du roi, a spy ring that worked for the old King, Louis XV, suggests that she casually report the Queen’s actions back to him as a game, she leaps at the chance. Spying seems like an adventure and an exciting way to privately support the revolution taking the countryside by storm. She also enjoys using her insight from Versailles in lively debates with Léon Gauvain, the handsome and idealistic revolutionary who courts her.
But as the uprising continues to gain momentum, and Giselle grows closer to the Queen, becoming one of the few trusted servants, she finds herself dangerously torn. Violence is escalating; she must choose where her loyalty truly lies, or risk losing everything…maybe even her head.
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