When NaNoWriMo ends, writers everywhere breathe sighs of relief as the pressure to finish their 50,000-word drafts lifts. The month that follows is a time to celebrate, win or lose. The WriMos get to enjoy life again and spend some much-needed time outside of their manuscripts — well before they dive back in when it's time for editing your NaNoWriMo draft.
For me, time off can be more stressful than the workload itself, especially when there's more work to do. I want to get it all over with, and taking a break feels like I'm being completely unproductive. I know that the time off increases productivity, but it doesn't feel that way when I'm chomping at the bit to get back to work.
If this sounds like you, these books are the perfect solution to your work/break conflict. Remember, taking a break from crafting your magnum opus doesn't mean not working on it at all. So give your mind a rest, add a few more wrenches and hammers to your writer's toolbox, and come back fresh and well-equipped to do your rewrites. Here are 10 titles to inspire you and help with your editing process.
1. SparkJoy: A Illustrated Guide to the Life-Changing KonMari Method by Marie Kondō
Marie Kondō's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up went to No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Due out in January 2016, SparkJoy is the illustrated guide to Kondō's keep-it-if-it-brings-you-happiness philosophy on decluttering. Read it and remember her methods when you sit down to edit your draft.
2. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
Stephen King returned to the short story world with The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, his first collection since 2010's Full Dark, No Stars. Well-written short stories serve as condensed lessons in crafting a narrative, and who better to learn from than a master storyteller like King?
3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert's guide to creative living, Big Magic, has obvious applications for writers. If you don't already have a daily writing habit, this book will kick you in the ass until you develop one.
4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr's novel about occupied France won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal, and was shortlisted for the National Book Award. If big-time literary awards are your dream, All the Light We Cannot See should be your next read to maybe take in some of his cred by osmosis.
5. Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
Postmodern fiction abounds with kooky characters whose appearances, pasts, likes, and dislikes seem to have been created by magnetic poetry. Check out Humans of New York: Stories for tidbits to spice up your cast of characters.
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
If you're a mystery writer (or even if you're not), pick up Paula Hawkins' 2015 thriller, The Girl on the Train. It was a runaway bestseller in the post-Gone Girl world, and it can teach you a thing or two about building suspense and, oh maybe, how to also be a runaway bestseller.
7. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood's first novel since MaddAddam centers on a couple who join up for a radical social experiment after an economic collapse sends their world to Hell. Work on your pacing by reading this novel, where obsession, secrets, and deceit abound.
8. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
Taking a break from writing your novel doesn't mean you can't engage in a few short exercises. Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools breaks down 50 indispensable lessons into easy-to-digest advice for authors of all stripes.
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
No list like this would be complete without a NaNoWriMo novel, right? Erin Morgenstern wrote The Night Circus over two NaNo sessions. If you didn't win this year, or if you just aren't finished yet, read this book to convince yourself that it can be done.
10. Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik
If there's one book that can improve your writing from just a single reading, it's this one. Arthur Plotnik's Spunk & Bite has all the advice you need to turn your abysmal NaNoWriMo manuscript into something agents and publishers will be dying to put out.
Image: Rostislav Sedlacek/Fotolia