So I’ve been thinking a lot this week about shelving manuscripts. A depressing topic, maybe, but one that all writers have to think about. Like, when should you take a break from a manuscript? When should you call it quits and shelve it? When does that manuscript that the world needs to read become that manuscript you just needed to write?
Something that kept coming to mind (perhaps because of my 102F fever, I’m not sure) is a lecture I had a while ago about pancreatitis. See, in the olden days (AKA five or six years ago), the standard of care for a patient who came in with pancreatitis was to make them NPO (nil per os – nothing to eat/drink) until the pancreatitis completely resolved. This could take… well, a while.
But nowadays, the guidelines have changed. When should you feed a patient with pancreatitis now?
When they tell you they’re hungry.
I think the same principle applies to manuscripts. When should you take a break from a MS? When you feel like you need a break. When should you shelve it? When you want to shelve it. If you find yourself thinking “I should probably shelve this, but…” Don’t shelve it. If you really wanted to shelve it, you wouldn’t add the ‘but’!
There’s no right time frame, no magic number of revisions or rejections before you should shelve a manuscript. As long as you want to work on it, you should work on it. When you’re completely bored of it, put it aside. And when should you look at it again?
When you’re hungry for it.
Okay, so it’s not a PERFECT metaphor. Did I mention my 102F fever??
Happy writing, everyone 🙂