It’s been a while since I wrote about Book (Re) Writing, and I haven’t been publishing much on other things on my blog either, and to be honest it is very much because my life has been utterly insane recently. I’ve actually just been taking a break from writing entirely.
*Cue the collective gasp of the internet’s writing community.*
I’ve been reading everywhere on the internet for the majority of my life that writer’s should always try and write every single day no matter how stressed/blocked/busy you are; advice that stems a lot from the wisdom of Stephen King. If you finished one draft put it aside and start on a new project before returning to a project for editing. But write every single day!
Well I’m sorry but sometimes real life doesn’t afford you that luxury.
I call myself a writer, but it is not my profession – it doesn’t pay my bills (yet), my brand new job does that; nor is writing my partner of ten years (whose recently added ‘husband’ to his description) who does like to spend time with me; nor is writing the new house and the wonderful tour of Europe that was our Honeymoon that has taken up all of my spare time and brain space recently.
Crochet is my only other creative hobby I’ve been actively pursuing recently, purely for the very fact it doesn’t require me to think too hard. I’ve been able to finish projects like the Ice Scales Scarf which I have been working on for months. I can use crochet as part of my nightly unwind process. If I write in that time, the inner Night Owl wakes up and my brain will whirl for the precious hours I have set aside to sleep.
And all of this has actively made me feel intensely guilty – because I am not writing every single day like you’re supposed to. Well I was feeling guilty until my brain eventually piped up and said-
“You’ve ignored and even debunked advice you’ve read on the internet about writing before, why the hell are you paying attention to this?”
Thank you brain for speaking up and ridding me of that guilt. At the moment I can’t write every day, or even just every week at the minute, and you might be the same. So I’ve taken a break from my project.
And it has been wonderful.
I am an advocate of working on the project until it is finished and leaving it for a while. If you’re able to work on another project in the interim that’s great, and is one of the points I do wish to make in this post – you do need to Take a Break from working on your projects, whether you are working on the first draft or are editing you’re project.
You should then either go an work on an unrelated project, or just rest, but don’t go back too soon to the project you’re working on. You need space and recovery time. You need to make you’re brain a bit of the blank page in relation to your project so that you can return to it objectively. I get emotionally connected to my stories – I need to break that connection. Clean slate – writing something else helps.
Sometimes the limits of real life and available brain space though does mean you can’t write though. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.
And you want to know why I think it’s wonderful: because letting go of the guilt and just living means my brain occasionally comes up with a really brilliant idea. Not thinking about writing, and not making it a chore has actually unlocked some really good ideas I’ve had in the past which I had dismissed or written out a few drafts ago. And new ideas as well.
I have to do a major rewrite of my book (as in I think I need to just start entirely again from scratch) and ‘not writing’ has actually been the best thing I could do, because it means I can do thinking instead. Not thinking and planning, has been my downfall in the past.
So yes you definitely need to take a break from your project, and sometimes despite what the collective wisdom of the internet says, you just need to take a break from writing entirely.