By the time I’m near the end of a project, I can’t wait to get it out of my life. I’ve edited it so many times that I can’t see any more errors. I’m sick to death of reading it. It’s consumed my world, and usually I’m so hyper-focused on it that I neglect other things. I daydream of that moment when I finally hit “send” on a completed project. But then I think…now what?
Completing a project produces excitement but also a little emptiness as you look around for your next one. Unless you have it ready to go, here are some ideas on ways you can rejuvenate and get your creativity juices pumping before you dive into your next manuscript.
Read for Pleasure
Like all writers, I love to read, but fiction often takes a backseat when I’m actively working on a book. I don’t want to get another author’s voice stuck in my head or inadvertently plagiarize. But, as I’m winding down or when I’m in between projects, I love to dive back into fiction. Often I’m able to focus on form and style before I get totally lost in a story. Noticing how other writers handle plot, pacing, characterization, and other craft issues help me realize what I aspire to…and what I want to avoid. Best of all, it’s enjoyable!
If you’re totally stuck on what you want to do next, get curious. Read more, watch movies, go to museums, or read the features section of the newspaper more carefully. Heck, read the drama in the news. Check out bands. Go to an event you otherwise wouldn’t think to attend. Take a weekend trip somewhere new. Get out there! Occupy your mind with new thoughts, ideas, and people. It won’t take long before an idea gels.
Coming up with ideas is never a problem for me. Coming up with good, marketable ideas is. Sometimes I get the germ of an idea, but I’m not sure if there’s enough to work with, so I investigate further. Usually I think of a contact I might have that could tell me more about the subject I’m interested in. Speaking to an expert usually steers me in the right direction. An expert doesn’t have to be an actual expert in anything but the subject you are interested in. For instance, I was curious about teenage social queens (like homecoming or prom, etc), so I talked to the relevant parties to mine information.
I also consult good ole Dr. Google or buy books on topics if I can’t find an expert. As a writer, stories are likely to pop out to you in even the small details of what you read. These might give you a hint about what you want to do next. Or, it could be the foundation for your next book.
Take Care of Yourself
Tell me if the following sounds familiar. You start a new project and despite being interested in it, it’s like pulling teeth to sit down and actually work on it. The farther along you go, the easier it gets. By the end, you’re totally obsessed and don’t want to do anything other than get the darn thing done. If this sounds familiar or if you’re used to being on deadline, you know that you can put yourself on the back burner. Maybe your diet, sleep, or exercise suffer. Take this time to rejuvenate, relax, and get healthy. It won’t be long before your next project needs you.