Once I turned in my latest manuscript, I realized something—I was between deadlines, meaning I don’t have any contracted novels to jump right into. While that’s good to allow myself time to relax after back-to-back deadlines, it doesn’t help the bank account.
However, I needed the downtime. I needed to refresh my spirit and refuel my writing energies.
Here are five suggestions for others who may find themselves between deadlines or without contracts yet:
- Breathe. Maybe you’ve put in long hours finishing up your manuscript before your deadline. Or perhaps, you’re still waiting for that offer to come through. Either way, take time to simply breathe…relax. I submitted my last manuscript during a family crisis, which tripled the stress level. But, once I turned it in, I was able to exhale and know I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
- Give Thanks. Yes, that’s right. Thank God for His provision, wisdom, and help during your deadline. Thank those who helped you to the finish—family, supportive friends, craft partners, prayer partners, and writing team. Many say writing is a solitary occupation. While I agree to a point, I know I’m where I am today because of my writing team—editor, agent, mentors, prayer partners, craft partners, and of course, my supportive family and friends.
- Reflect. Take some time to reflect about your last deadline. Review the highlights and the struggles. What was the biggest challenge for you? What areas went well for you? I struggled with the plot for my latest manuscript, but after a couple of conversations with my editor, we got the problems worked out, and I was able to move forward. However, I had less time to write, so I needed to write smarter. Also, I was still in the middle of that family crisis, so that affected my attention. For future deadlines, I’ll make sure the plot is solid from the beginning.
- Learn. Take advantage of this time between deadlines to strengthen your craft. No matter where you are in your writing career, you need to keep learning. I’ve been reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle and Amanda Luedeke’s The Extroverted Writer. Additionally, I’ve pulled out MBT work texts from my past MBT retreats to review material to make brainstorming my next novel less stressful.
- Move Forward. Like I said, being between deadlines gives me some very necessary downtime, but it doesn’t help the bank account. In order to grow my business and my readership, I need to focus on my next projects. For me, this means reviewing career goals with my agent and determining the next steps to meet those goals.
Having deadlines is an incredible blessing, but there are times when they can stress you out, especially if the calendar dates are rushing past you faster than your fingers can fly across your computer keys. Just know you’re not alone—millions of writers are there with you, and your editor is just a phone call or an email away. Taking time to assess your story and laying that foundation from the very beginning will help you to write smarter, not harder. That way, when you submit your manuscript by the contracted deadline, you can do so with peace in your spirit, knowing you did your best.