When working with a manuscript – whether it is the Great American Novel, a children’s book about sea lions or, Digression forbid, a master’s thesis about one of the world’s most depressive and persistent conflicts – it frequently happens that we end up taking ourselves and our work too seriously. We work up nerves and expectations, and all of a sudden, your manuscript is the most important thing in human history. Unless you get every sentence absolutely perfect, there is a chance the world as we know it will come to an end.
Relax. It’s not the end of the world.
In fact, it might not even be a sign that the apocalypse is near.
|The ideal writer needs virtually no sleep|
Your manuscript won’t go anywhere if you take fifteen minutes off to go for a quick walk.
A weekend off can do more for your productivity than two weeks of diligent work.
One of the best things I ever do for my academic papers (even the ones on a deadline) is to go to bed, and then look at them with rested eyes in the morning. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “paper fairy”, but she sure seems to visit during the night. She doesn’t take a tooth from under my pillow, and she doesn’t leave a coin. She does take away some of my destructive self-criticism, however, and she often leaves a paper that seems much better than it did the previous night.
Did you know that studies show that 413% of writers are cursed by (light to medium) panic attacks over “terrible” manuscripts when in reality they only need a nap? Did you know that 0.000017% of all writers will eventually eat the paper they write on because they keep forgetting dinner? Did you know that 3 out of 17 books are rejected by publishers because they are stained by coffee since the writer forgot to take a real break and instead brought the coffee back to her work where she accidentally spilled the coffee all over the printed manuscript? Did you know that all the above figures (except the giraffe one) were made up by me in an attempt to get your attention, but that they nevertheless serve to illustrate a point?
Take a break. It’ll do wonders for you.