Productive things to do on lockdown when you’ve finished your book (or just can’t face writing any more!)

hand-touching-glass-3944752Yay! Lockdown! Hours and hours and hour of uninterruped time where I can just sit and write and be the most productive creative writer ever (apart from all the time where I’m working for school, family or just my own well-being!) Only, I finished the book before we went into lockdown. So what am I supposed to do with all this time?

Go on to the next one

I know what’s coming for the next novel. Another Vida and Slater one. I could use this time productively to start writing this. It feels a bit relentless though. I’ve only just finished writing Witness, and even actual, published real writers get to take some time off between books (maybe they don’t when they’re only pretend writers, that’s why they get to be actual writers, but we’ll ignore that for a minute!) So I don’t want to go full on writer style.

What I can do productively though is start all that planning and plotting before the actual one foot in front of the other part of writing hits. I already vaguely know what will happen, but if my writing has taught me anything it’s that everything will need to be way more complicated than I think it does.

Edit the last one (again) (go on, just one more time) (one final tweak)

You’ve got the time and space to be able to really go over the last thing you wrote and be as critical as you can be. Plenty of time for rewrites and redos. There are a couple of problems with this though. Firstly, if you’re like me, you’re in that ‘I actually can’t stand to look at another word I’ve written’ phase. I can’t face it. Can’t go back over it again and again and again. In this circumstance, space is the best thing for it and for me.

Secondly, you can get sucked into a never-ending circle of problem spot, fix, edit, rewrite that will just take you down a spiral of self-doubt and loss of confidence. The beautiful thing that you’ve created will become a loathed object. You’re too close to be objective and you now longer have a sense as to whether you’re improving or screwing up your work. Don’t fall for this. If you are going to have one last edit, limit yourself to that. One more set of changes. Or one week of work. Don’t let it take over your life.

Get it ready for submission and release into the wild!

If you’re happy with it… well, no… if you’re happy that you’ve done everything that you could do… erm… if you’re at that point where you just can be arsed to do anything else to ‘improve’ it, then it’s obviously time to get it ready for release. Use this time to scope out your potential agents, a little bit of Twitter stalking, using one of the sites like Jericho Writers to work out who might be a match for your work. Craft an approach letter that sells your book succinctly, and more to the point, in the way that each specific agent asks for. Sort out all your submission elements: the synopsis; the varied lengths of chapters or wordcounts; the ample bribes (okay, this last bit isn’t strictly accurate but if there are any agents reading… I might be willing…)

This bit can take a long time. Much longer than you’ve anticipated. And it really is an area where it’s worth checking once, twice and three times to make sure you haven’t made any glaring idiot errors (like addressing it to the wrong name!)

Read!

What does an almost writer love maybe as much as writing? Definitely reading. And this is a great time to be able to really devote yourself to reading as much as possible. Not just potential competitors, but books of different genres, articles that might give you inspiration for another story. Read widely and broadly. All this feeds into your writing style and will really help you hone your craft.

Look after your mental health

One of the things I’ve been enjoying most about lockdown is the time that I’ve now got to be able to take things slower and do a bit of self-care. Writing and publishing (or just writing and writing) is mentally hard. Either you’re on a wheel of reviews and self-publicity or you’re on a wheel of hopelessness and despair (they might overlap to be honest) and it’s hard to take a step back from it. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found to lockdown is to be able to take time for myself. Yoga, a bath, just some lounging around time. Don’t underestimate how important it can be just to look after yourself.

What are you doing during lockdown? Keeping busy or taking it slow?

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