Though my head's been in a new project for the past two months, I've been called upon to do some edits of the previous manuscript. This happens frequently. You'll be happily slogging away at the work in progress when another one comes home to roost for a spell like an errant, grown child.
I have this one, last chance (other than galley proofs, which allow me to change nothing but typos and the occasional glaring continuity error) to straighten this book's collar and neaten her hair before sending her out for the world to see. I'm initially daunted by my editor's list of suggestions, which will require my to reread the entire manuscript so I can be sure not to drop threads or contradict myself as I make changes.
So I trot out an old mantra used for facing edits, galleys, and at times the writing of the manuscript itself. One step at a time, it goes, meaning that it's imperative to really focus on each page separately, apart from and yet together with the totality of the book. It's my way of breaking up the task into bite-sized chunks, a hold-over from my teaching experience, which taught me (as nothing teaches one like teaching) that human beings freeze mentally when faced with an overwhelming, new expectation, that the only way to conquer it is to break it up into small steps.
I use this method to break down my deadline, planning pages to be completed per month and per day and allowing time for days off and a solid block for editing. Mini-deadlines have kept me sane in this business, and since I now have an external one (a week to turn around these edits) I'll be moving on to that task...
One step at a time, one page at a time.
By the way, this lovely photo is of the mysterious staircase of the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place well worth visiting. To find out why it's so mysterious, check out this website.