There’s nothing like the feeling of typing “The End” when we finish a story. We breathe a sigh of relief, maybe shed a tear or two . . . and then the euphoria disappears. Almost immediately, we start thinking about all of the things that we want to change—the character’s motivation, that one battle scene, etc.
DO NOT DO IT.
No. Do not open that manuscript.
At that present time, we are too close to our manuscript. We’ve sweated and bled and cried and moaned and sacrificed. We cannot be unbiased readers/editors until we’ve put space between us and our story. We won’t see the blaring plot holes or realize that our character started out as a brunette but then magically became a red-head in four chapters later.
Put the manuscript away for a while.
Enjoy your kids, reintroduce yourself to your spouse. Get a dog. Ride a pony. Hop backwards from Virginia Beach to San Francisco. Anything that will take your mind off of your novel. Hey, the smarter thing might be to start your next project (that’s what I’m doing).
Most experts suggest anywhere from 4-6 weeks for optimum distance. Sometimes that’s not possible due to deadlines or other issues. I would say at least 2 weeks, but even then some stuff might still be too fresh.
Right now, my latest novel is in the hands of my critique partners. I finished on January 28 and will not pick it up again until at least March 1 (as that is when the critiques are due back). That’s a little over four weeks. In the meantime, I’ve decided to teach myself to use Scrivener and start on my next fantasy project. It’s going to be a fun one!
If you’re afraid of forgetting something, jot down some notes.
If you don’t think you have the time–make the time. If you have a deadline, plan accordingly, giving yourself that extra window of time.
Resist the temptation, and do right by your novel. Keep your hands off the manuscript!