Zoë Miller’s 10 tips for getting over “Writer’s Vacuum”
What do you do when your book is finished?
Some people tie up their package of carefully aligned A4 sheets in pretty pink ribbons and make a wish over it when the moon is rising. They cross their fingers ceremoniously as it is swallowed into the great maw of the post office box. Others hold their breath, count to ten and click ‘send’ on an email. The end result is still the same – the book you have slaved over for the best guts of a year is en route to your editor.
For me, in the hours and days following a manuscript submission, I am left with a sense of anti-climax almost akin to saying goodbye to my baby at the airport.
At first I found the experience a shock to the system, but having sent off several manuscripts to my editor by now, I’ve come to accept this rite of passage. Of course I’ll have withdrawal symptoms when characters I know so well are suddenly missing from my life. Of course there’ll be a huge gap in my day when all the passion and enthusiasm I’ve lavished on my work-in-progress is now redundant. And no, I can’t go back and tweak some line of dialogue no matter how much my fingers are itching to. It’s gone.
However, through trial and error, I have found some diversions that help get me past those first few days of “Writer’s Vacuum” as I call it. Some of these might work for you if you are similarly afflicted. In count-down order of priority they are:
10. Get back to Twitter. You can’t wait to reconnect with social media because naturally you’ll have neglected this in the final, fervent push to hit your deadline. You might even have forgotten your password. But as soon as you’re up and running you soon realise that you weren’t really missing a great big party after all while your head was plugged into your book.
9. Reactivate the Facebook account that was similarly neglected. However you discover don’t particularly want to play Candy Planet or Movie Pop Quiz. And who needs to ‘like’ a car tyre manufacturer’s page anyway?
8. Go shopping. The cure-all panacea. Problem is, you’ve become such a hermit with dishevelled hair that all those shiny counters manned by perfectly groomed assistants and the pushy crowds zoned in on shopping with a military focus are a little intimidating. You take refuge in a book store, but in perusing the shelves and glancing at the back covers you begin to think that all the other novels in your genre sound so much more appealing than your precious ‘baby’.
7. Pay your bills. Especially the credit card bill you had completely overlooked, which happened to be heavier than usual, hiked up with your car insurance + car tax + holiday deposit and you have incurred a late payment fee as well as an amount of interest equivalent to the designer handbag you did without on account of being too expensive.
6. Start on the colossal mountain of neglected ironing, the one that’s blocking all the light from shining into the utility room. Thing is, you’ll find clothes you haven’t worn for six months and others you forgot existed, so before you brandish the iron, you’ll be caught up in debating if it’s time for the charity shop bag.
5. Clean the house. You now have time to tackle those dull and boring jobs that were left to one side as you finished your exciting book. If you’re lucky you’ll locate the source of the suspicious scent occasionally emanating from under the sofa, only to discover it is a dropped chunk of last year’s Christmas pudding.
4. Catch up with friends over a few well-deserved glasses of wine. (You did give up wine as well, didn’t you??) You’ll need the wine to relax you because it can be hard to re-discover the ability to articulate engagingly after so many silent conversations in your head with made up characters. If your friends are very understanding, they might still like you enough to come to your book launch.
3. Cook a meal. From scratch. A proper, nutritious meal, with market fresh vegetables, carefully prepared for that loving family you all but forgot. You can longer use writing your book as an excuse to pass off Chinese takeaway loaded with MSG or frozen lasagne accompanied by a package of factory-rinsed lettuce.
2. Have a massage. As a priority. Your scrunched up shoulders and strained finger joints will need it before they seize up completely.
1. But the number one priority is to indulge in a manicure as soon as possible. Because fizzing around the painful vacuum of missing your book, is the euphoric glow that you have actually finished it. And you might as well enjoy some beautiful fingernails while you can. As soon as that euphoric glow wears off, you’ll have no nails left waiting for your editor’s response, not to mention working on the re-writes.
(c) Zoë Miller
Zoë lives in Dublin and has had five novels published by Hachette Ireland, including The Compromise, which was published in April 2013. Zoe’s novels are a blend of glamour and intrigue, love and redemption. She is represented by Sheila Crowley of Curtis Brown, London.
Zoë has recently sent off her next manuscript to her editor and her supportive family are breathing a collective sigh of relief.
You can find out more about Zoe at www.zoemillerauthor.com
Follow her on Twitter: @zoemillerauthor or find her on Facebook/zoemillerauthor.