You Finished Your Novel… Now What?

You can join my tribe and learn more about my writing process and get a short story and the first chapter of one of my novels. You can also find the short stories and novels I’ve published under my name and my pen name.

I’ve recently been on a roll with my writing projects. I had a lot of ideas build up while I was still working full-time so when I finally found freedom, I unleashed my writing beast. Since June 12, I’ve published a full-length novel, started/finished/published three short stories and a novella, and, as of last Friday, completed another full-length novel.

That last novel was a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve only been writing since late 2018 and publishing since the middle of 2019. This book happens to be the third in the series that launched my writing passion so it’s definitely my writing baby.

So perhaps you’re in a similar boat. Maybe you are getting close to finishing your first novel or it’s possible you’re writing ‘The End’ on your twentieth. But the minute you write your last words, you enter a liminal state; not quite published but somewhere in between stages.

So what’s next for you, writer?

Celebrate your win

Unless this is your first novel, I think writers often just give themselves a pat on the back and move on to the next. First time novelists are probably over the moon, cheering, and carrying their baby around with them everywhere.

I know I always had an updated copy of my first draft on my phone so I could tell people “Yes, I’m writing a novel. Look at it. This is my book”. Basically I became one of those people who showed baby photos to all their friends… but my baby was my novel.

Once I finished my second and third novels, the novelty wore off. It was just a “Yay, I finished. Time to bleed out another story”.

But writing a novel, of any length, is a crazy and wonderful thing. You have a story that started out as a blank page and now has words that (hopefully) make sense in an order that tells a decent plot. That’s no easy feat, otherwise everyone would have a book to their name.

You just accomplished something that others dream of. So take time to celebrate your win. Feel accomplished and enjoy the journey that got you to this point in time. Love the messy first draft you have in front of you because it used to be empty.

Take a break

While you’re celebrating, why don’t you take a break from that draft. Give it some breathing room. In fact, take a break from writing altogether.

Writing is my absolute and ultimate passion in life. I love every bit of it, even the grueling parts. I actually hate that I have to sleep and do other things in life because I want to be at the keyboard writing 24/7. But that’s not healthy.

You just sat down and wrote a novel over an extended period of time. You deserve a break to get acclimated to the world around you. It’s also critical to avoid burnout.

Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re giving up on writing. You’re just giving it and yourself some space. It helps you recharge and come back to your work with a fresh mind and a rejuvenated spirit.

Work on something new

You can work on a new project, a different hobby, or even a completely different novel. When you’ve finished one novel, it’s really helpful to give that manuscript some breathing room. Let it air out and give your mind something else to think about for a while. When you sit back with that first draft, you can apply a new and healthy mindset and walk away with a better novel.

Personally, I love having two different projects to work on at once. I like having an option to work on something else if I don’t particularly feel the rhythm a certain day. That’s how I was able to complete so many projects once I started writing full-time. I had two different stories going at once and some days I’d just work on one while others I’d spend my morning doing one project and the afternoon on the other.

It’s also helpful to have multiple outlets of creativity. While I’m a terrible painter, I have supplies to do acrylics on a canvas. Other times I doodle on a bullet journal or my planner.

Give your mind a vacation

One of my favorite things to do after finishing a novel, especially when I don’t know what project to work on next, is reading. I have a collection of books in and out of my writing genre that I store up for a binge reading session. When I need a little mind vacation, I let it escape into books.

When I’m working to get out of vacation and back into ‘work mode’, I have another collection of non-fiction that helps me get back in the saddle. These books can vary from editing tips to writing exercises to general self-care and productivity advice. I like these types of books when I am getting ready to write again because it gives me things to look for and a new mindset for editing my novel.

Start the editing process

Now it’s time to welcome your inner editor back into your life. Pick them up and sit them down in front of your manuscript and let them go to work. After taking some time away from your first draft, you’ll be able to pick up on things you wouldn’t have noticed before.

Remember that even if your inner editor is ripping your work to shreds, you can still be proud and love your first draft. Without it, you’d have nothing to edit or fix. You’d still be staring at a blank page. That first draft might be messy but it’s beautiful.

The first draft is you telling the story to yourself. Now it’s time to tell the story to the world. Be kind and have fun. You wrote a novel. Not many people can say they are an author. Congrats, my friend.

Reading List:

His to Protect: A Sci-Fi Alien Romance – S Alexander

Inside the Fire – Heather D Glidewell

Love, Lies, and Immortal Ties – C J Laurence

End of August Romance Reads – I have three books featured here. Check out some of the other awesome titles.


    1. The Winter Writer

      I’ve been in the same boat. I rewrote my first novel a few times before it was at a point where all it needed was editing. Definitely give yourself some rest where you need it. Having a fresh set of eyes on your book helps. Remember, you are your own harshest critic. Be kind to yourself during the process, even if it requires some work.

      Liked by 1 person

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