The first manuscript or two I wrote, I really wanted there to be a really solid, concrete answer to this question. Something that was provably right, as opposed to… just long enough to look at it with fresh eyes. One month? Two months? Am I doing this right? Awww, really?!! SIX MONTHS?!!!
Right now, my working theory is that you should let your manuscript rest at least as long as it takes you to write the next manuscript. Writing the next thing makes the waiting easier, and let’s be honest… were you really going to forget about the manuscript that’s just burning a hole through your desk drawer?
It took me a while to figure out that the manuscript cooling process doesn’t happen in a vaccuum. If you’re sitting there thinking abou the manuscript, it is not cooling. If you’re not distracting the creative part of your mind with something else, the manuscript is not cooling. Go do something else.
So, my ideal… at this moment… and still a work in progress… is to have the manuscript that is cooling, the manuscript I am writing, and the manuscript I am revising. That means that at the very least, I have to have two finished manuscripts and be working on the third. It’s not something I could have envisioned, right after I wrote the first one. (Or for quite a while after that, either.)
I’m not there, yet, but I think I’m getting there. I have the one that is cooling, and the one that I’m revising… the pandemic put a damper on the one that I’m supposed to be writing, but I do have a short story project I’m working on. I’m supposed to be starting an all-new project uhm… ah… right now? Yes. Right NOW. The pandemic has done strange things to me and my process from beginning to end.
On a related note, The Summer of Fiction Writing is starting over at Holly’s Writing Classes. The event is free, and so is this nifty Flash Fiction class. (If you do wind up buying something, that is an affiliate link, but you don’t have to spend money to get in on the fun.) I’m hoping to get back into a more normal-ish routine by the end of the summer. I even set up a bullet journal progress tracker for the whole thing. (Yes, to go with all the other bullet journal progress trackers in my life.)