Battling the Post-Revision Blues

Photo © 2006 Sheldon Wood CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’ve experienced the same thing, as a musician, whenever I give a big musical performance. As you prepare for the big event, you practice, you plan, you’re running on adrenaline. The big night comes. You perform beautifully. The burn of the spotlights, the adulation of the crowd, the feeling of accomplishment. You’re floating on air.

The next day, you crash, hard.

I always plan to take the next day off after a big performance. My father, too, when he was pastoring a church, Monday was his day off, because he had prepared all week for Sunday, and after it was over, he needed to decompress. And I experience the same thing after finishing a big writing project.

Once the manuscript is revised and put to bed, I start coming down off that adrenaline high. Up until that point, I’d been barreling through, planning, creating, writing, then revising, amazed at how good it feels, to read my own story, to have it excite me, the fulfillment, the psychological reward. And then, sadness.

After the revision is complete, I crash, hard. I need to put the manuscript up on the shelf for a little, because I’m too close to it. More than that, though, I start to see all the mistakes in it. I notice all the things I did wrong, or that I could have done better. Yes, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written—not just the one I’ve fallen in love with the most, but the one that encompasses all of the skill and acumen I’ve collected, more so than anything I’d ever written before. I have no reason to feel ashamed and every reason to feel proud. But even though it’s good writing, and fun to read, and even though there are plenty of less enjoyable works in the world that have been published to rave reviews, I wonder if it’s good enough. And then I wonder whether I’m good enough. I wonder whether people will hate it, or me, for whatever piddling reason. I begin to doubt that they’ll even take the effort to read it, because it’s not worth reading. I doubt my abilities as a writer. Am I any good? What kind of a stupid hack am I, anyhow? It doesn’t matter how much success I’ve gotten in the past, how many complements I’ve gotten, how many readers I have, how many fans or friends. And allowed to proceed unchecked, the feeling can debilitate.

This is the post-revision blues.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with them in a healthy manner. (Many of these are adapted from the book How to Lift Depression …fast.)

The most important thing to realize that it’s very natural to feel down for a time after a big project. You’ve been driving on the same project, probably continuously for a month or more, and now suddenly, it’s over. And it’s one of the ironies of human nature that such good news can drag you down. But it will pass.

Pick up; move on. Because you have a destiny.


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[…] is the book I’ve been working on. I had almost completed it, and I was on the verge of the post-revision blues— or (in this case) post-production […]

These are great tips, Tim. I’ll keep them in mind when I start having a melt-down.

Thanks, Missy. I hope they help you out. It sucks being hit by the blues.


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