Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rest for the Weary Writer

Finishing a book is hard work.

Taking some downtime is necessary.

But if you're anything like me, it's hard to do.
Photo Courtesy Ron St. Amant

Last week, I finished a major editing pass on my next book and shipped it off to my trusty beta readers. For the next month, I'll be living in no-man's land as I wait to get it back so I can go through it again and prep it to go to my editor. Usually, I have more than one project going for just this thing, but as I finished my book on Thursday last week, I realized I had nothing truly active, or even really urgent. Friday dawned, and it was nice not to feel any pressure to sit down and edit...but by the time Saturday arrived, I could feel my anxiety level rising without a reason to sit down and work on a book.

Don't get me wrong, I like not having anything pressing. I cleaned out my closet on Friday, and being a homeschool mom, I know I'll be more focused on finishing up my daughter's school year over the next couple weeks than I have been pretty much all the rest of the school year.

But, it feels like something is missing.

In the interest of curiosity, I decided to ask some other writers and authors what they did when they're between drafts. Here's some of their answers:
  • My most prolific writers immediately begin drafting the next book.
  • Plotting the next book, even if it's only in meditation. 
  • I have four current works in progress, so when I run out of things to do on one of them I just move straight to the next one that needs things done...
  • I read a lot. A LOT. And sometimes I'll take the time to enjoy something sensory, like a new cooking technique or type of exercise. But also, I have multiple projects going, so I just go to another one. 
  • I read other books and begin writing the next book. I usually have at least 3 writing projects going on (all at different stages) so it's not too hard to find something else to occupy my time.
  • At the very first, I intentionally detox and relax, usually by some combination of tv and reading and maybe a couple beers. I then start brainstorming on either my next project, thinking about marketing the existing project, or switch to another project if several are active.
  • Well, I have at least three writing projects going right now, and two part-time day jobs, so...
  • Reading and writing the next thing.
  • It entirely depends on what I've got going on. This time around, I finished two manuscripts very close together, so I sent them off for editing and beta-reading, and have been spending the waiting time editing and critiquing for other authors. Sometimes I take that time and read more. Sometimes I work on another project. Or I switch to working on my visual art.
  • ...There's an in-between stage?
  • I always have a million story ideas, so if I need a break from a series book, I start brainstorming/drafting one of my standalone books. I pretty much always have several stories all in the editing, drafting, and brainstorming phases, so I always have something to work on.
  • Vegetate. :p          
Considering I tend to be a bit of a workaholic, I can relate so much to all the authors who said they jump over to another project. Maybe it's the older I get, the more I realize I need a break between books, or I'm learning from authors who are a little older (or at least wiser) than I am, and see the need for a bit of renewal period between jumping back into the creative process.

For now, I think I'll be working on light pre-planning on the next book.

And maybe cleaning my house, which always gets to be a bit of a disaster when I'm in the final weeks of any stage of the process. And maybe read a bit more than I have been in the last few months.

What say you: Do you take any hiatus after finishing a major round on your books? If so, what do you do in that time?
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  1. A few days "off" is good for the soul...but it's hard.

  2. I have a hard time finding "down" time. Even when I'm not working, I'm wishing I was.

    1. I definitely understand that feeling. I'm wishing I was writing right now!

  3. Life as I like to call it tries to get in the way of my writing. I am drawn to my morning writing place. That is where the muse knows she'll find me. It is my only time of escape and solitude I have during the day. It is second in importance only to my quiet time in God's word. Even as I care for a 90 years old father and my bride of 41+ years with stage 4 cancer, I still find time to write. The day following typing The End on my last two books found me writing again the next morning starting the next project. I enjoying writing more than seeing my by-line though I admit I like the check or deposit in the bank account.