View Full Version : post-manuscript depression

Leigh Walker
01-31-2007, 08:51 PM
I am a newbie around here, so forgive me if I post this in the wrong place, but I wanted to find out if anyone out there has experienced what I am right now.
I have recently completed the first draft of my first manuscript. (about 100,000 words.) For the first time in my life I have decided to completely dedicate all my time and energy to doing what I have always wanted to do. I finished the draft in a little under a month and during that time I have never been happier.
I finished about three weeks ago, and since then have been feeling what can only be described as low level depression (I was a psychologist before deciding to try writing). Perhaps for those moms out there I can compare it to post partum? (I am not a mom yet, but I imagine it may be what it is like and I do feel a bit like I have given "birth" to my manuscript.)
I am having a hard time getting myself motivated to start the revision process and my partner is as confused as I am as to why I would be feeling so low when I have just accomplished the first steps of my dream.
Anyway, I thought I would ask for some advice from people who know!


01-31-2007, 10:03 PM
It's not an uncommon feeling, Leigh, especially for first-time novelists. There is a wonderful sense of completion when you write THE END for the first time, and a keen sense of loss now that the first draft is over.

You need to psyche yourself up for the revision process. Many writers hate this part, but it's all part of writing. Look at it as another adventure with your novel (or the Terrible Twos, to do along with your birth metaphor). Revision is a chance to look at your words, to measure them and make them defend their existence.

You said yourself that you have "accomplished the first steps" of your dream. Don't let mild depression cheat you out of taking the next steps.

01-31-2007, 10:12 PM
I know exactly how you feel and Chaostitan gives valuable advice. You've done amazingly to write 100,000 words in a month. If you keep half of what you have then you've done brilliantly.

On one project I wrote 85,000 words, edited it back to 55,000 and then magically the story took on a wonderful additional layer once the dross had been cleared which pushed it quickly back up to 75,000 which turned out to be its proper length.

01-31-2007, 11:35 PM
Welcome to AW Leigh!

This is common and what you might want to do is take a break from the novel. You should let it gel anyway before getting into the messy revision process. With my first novel I let the first draft sit for a month before I approached the revision. I plan on doing the same with this second novel.

I didn't just lounge around during that month off (well maybe I did a little) but got busy with outlining the next project, finishing up some short stories and starting research on agents, etc. I also read a lot.

Good luck!

Leigh Walker
01-31-2007, 11:50 PM
thanks for the advice. I guess I have taken a bit of a break, but didnt give myself "permission" to do that and have been feeling bad about that too! I was reluctant to switch over to something else (guess I have a bit of an obsessive need to not leave things unfinished!) but I think that might be a good idea.

It is nice to know that there are others out there that understand what is happening in my crazy and chaotic brain!

Histry Nerd
02-01-2007, 12:36 AM
Welcome, Leigh.

If you finished 100K in a month, you probably spent several hours a day working on your project. Now a large chunk of how you spent your days for the last month is gone. That kind of disruption is enough to send anybody reeling.

You need to keep your hands off this project for a little while--a month to six weeks is my recommendation, but your mileage will vary. But don't lose your momentum. Start the next one. Write a sequel, or grab another character and write about him or her. Make an outline. Research. Practice. Write articles or shorts or something. Keep writing!


02-01-2007, 02:08 AM
What you are feeling is not unusal.

Though, I actually feel relieved when I get the first draft over with (usually in about a month). Then the fun of editing starts (usually about three months).

Here's some incentive, you can't sell your first draft. So if you actually want to make money as a writer you'll need to edit and polish. Take a bit of time off (if needed) then jump into shining that draft.

02-01-2007, 03:38 AM
Welcome to the boards. Like you I wrote very quickly (still do), but have a reall issue with revisions. I get so muddled in them, I get frustrated and depressed and want to toss it all out and never write again. Then I come to my senses after a few tears and am starting again.

Like the others have said, take a break from that first work, go on and write something else. Then when you're ready, you can approach the first one with, if not new eyes, at least refreshed ones.

Good luck.

02-01-2007, 09:22 AM
I've felt that loss at the end of a novel. My NaNoWriMo works both left me wondering what to do now (btw, 100K in one month? I'm impressed, Leigh). The first year, I tried to go back to another novel & completely failed. This year, I gave myself a couple of days & then went straight into revising. But I like rereading & editing, so for me that was the best way to combat the "post-partum depression."

With my first novel, which I spent over a year on (minus the time for NaNo), I was just ready to finish it. I knew I had to go through & make many cuts & revisions, so I never gave myself the chance to get depressed over finishing it, only over whether it was good or not. I was ready to work on submitting it & to start new projects. I think I did have a point last year where I kept starting & giving up on novels, & that was pretty depressing, but once I got inspired on one of those novels, that depression went away.

Leigh Walker
02-01-2007, 08:35 PM
I cant tell you how good it is to hear that others have felt the same way I do. It makes so much sense now that I think about it. It is just a strange feeling to be doing what you have always wanted to do, in a great place (I am living in South America) and feel whiny about it!
I did write it very quickly, it just kind of poured out of me and while my partner spent all his time on the beach and living a tropical paradise, I sat in front of the computer everyday! But I couldnt stop. For the first time in my life I actually had the freedom to just live in my head and let it all come out without any of the distractions of the "real world". It was amazing!
I am going to take all of your advice and take a month or so away from it and start on something else for awhile!

Thanks everyone!

Susan B
02-04-2007, 04:03 AM
Hi Leigh, and welcome!

I can certainly relate to what you describe--as a mother, psychologist, and now as a new writer finishing my first book. (Nonfiction.) My process was quite different from yours, though. I started out writing short pieces and I eventually responded to encouragement that I try to shape my writing into a book. So I never had that intense start-to-finish experience you did. (That is impressive!)

So it's evolved gradually, through multiple revisions, over several years. I've had those intense bursts of "writing frenzy" that I really enjoyed, as well as many satisfying quieter times of crafting and revising. But I find myself really resisting the idea of finishing it and allowing the book to pass out of my hands. I sense that it has something to do with avoiding the inevitable "let down" that comes with finishing any big project. (Along with the other things, like fear of being judged, I expect.)

Everyone has given you some good advice, so I don't have much to add. Researching agents can actually be a nice break--a real change of pace, and also productive, even if it may be awhile before you are ready to start sending out queries. I expect it must be especially challenging (though also wonderful, of course!) to be in a position where it sounds like you are pretty free to make your own schedule.

Good luck!


02-04-2007, 04:36 AM
I'm so glad you posted this because I've been feeling the same way since mailing off my first round of queries and proposals for a non-fiction project. While I didn't spend as much time on it every day as you did, I did fill up any spaces during my day as a stay-at-home-mom working on the proposal for five months. Now any time the girls are sleeping or playing happily, I have nothing to do but obsess over whether I could have done better. Also, I think writing made me feel productive, goal-oriented, and professional in a way that mommery (although rewarding and wonderful and bla bla bla) doesn't. Sounds like the find-another-project advice would be good for me, too.

Sorry for hijacking your post a bit. I didn't mean to babble about me so much as tell you that you aren't alone in that feeling! Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about how Sherlock Holmes would get lethargic and bored enough to take drugs when he didn't have an interesting case to occupy his mind. It makes me wonder if ACD didn't feel that way between writing projects, too.

Big hugs to you and best of luck finding another passion to fill up your mind while this one percolates!