What to do after finishing a novel

It's kind of like the moment when you realize you need a new haircut--like, yesterday. Or when you discover you're ravenous, and should have eaten an hour ago. When cabin fever strikes, and you needed to take a trip last week, probably. That mad-urgent feeling. You know what I mean?

Well, there comes a point in writing a story when I need to be DONE. 

I can never quite predict what that point will be. I make these wonderful, sensible schedules; and then life happens and shakes 'em up a bit. I readjust my schedules, I get back to a slightly more aggressive plan to make up for lost time; life interrupts again. I back off, I slow down, I reevaluate.

And then I wake up one morning and say: I don't care how many pages are left. What, 60? 70? Pfft. I have today free. LET'S DO THIS.

It's the drafting marathon. That's how I closed out Book Two, and that's how I closed out Book Three: last Tuesday, I worked from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., cranked out 65 pages, and yup, finished the book.

I slept in the next day, patted myself on the back a lot, and then contracted a serious case of NOW WHAT.

You have to give drafts room--a lot of room--to breathe, before you go back in and start revising. What to do in the in-between time? 

I've heard of very clever writers who crank out a mini-project before coming back to their major projects. Well done is what I have to say to them. That's a tempting option, but I don't have another project that close to being draftable, and besides, I'm practicing being Not Crazy.

I'm finally gonna keep things simple, so instead, my in-between list looks more like this:

1) Type in the draft, for starters! Lament the state of wrists and penmanship. 

2) Embark on a course of light, easy reading. Time to kick back, yes? Select something fun and beachy to start: Anna Karenina. (Although I have to say, the knees on that cover are giving me FITS. Cover design, people. Cover design.)

3) Sign up for a green smoothie challenge! 30 days of green smoothies. Because eating habits during the second half of a draft... not pretty.

4) And on that note: Realize how much sitting has happened. SO MUCH SITTING. Start a new workout routine. 

5) Maybe two. It was really a lot of sitting.

6) Go full throttle in the kitchen. I mean, all out crazy town. If you're not on your feet for three hours, you're not even trying. Reconnect with your love of good eating--I mean good cooking.  

7) And then make more lists!! Places to go! Things to do! Dust bunnies to vacuum! Closets to reorganize! Those file cabinets won't index themselves! 

Seriously, it's funny what I can find time for, without a draft breathing on my brain.

Oh, and hi, 2015. It's good to be here.