Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Giving myself a break

Last Friday afternoon, I finished re-reading the current draft of Project Fun, and deemed it "done" right on schedule. Of course, it's a hollow announcement: I know some of my secondary characters need more fleshing out, the beginning is slow, chapter five is a wordy, backstory-ridden mess. But in the past few months I had tackled what I set out to do. I had made Project Fun a coherent story, from beginning to end. While the rest of the work is totally necessary, the hard work, the story development, is mostly done. What a relief!

Saturday morning I sent the novel out to a handful of beta readers. I celebrated with a rare glass of wine at dinner, a chat with my Chicago writing group, and a very lazy weekend. Oh, and my Chicago group told me the chapter I submitted totally worked--a complete surprise to me and icing on the cake!

So now what? I decided a while back that when I finished this draft of Project Fun, I would set it aside for a few weeks. Partly, after all this work, I need to take care of myself. I need to prevent burn-out, keep myself healthy, and remember how much joy I find in the writing. Plus, taking some time away from a piece of work allows me to see it with fresh eyes. The words aren't memorized, every plot twist isn't obvious, and I can look with a more critical gaze on bits I had previously loved.

I've been dreaming of this free time, jotting down notes about what I might do, movies I missed, books I want to read. It's like my body knows my creative well needs to be re-filled. I also have a list of other story ideas, sometimes even single lines, that I want to play with and see where they take me. A slightly bigger project: a few weeks ago I inherited my grandmother's sewing machine. For a long time (in part due to my Project Runway addiction), I've been wanting to learn to sew. After some instruction from my mom, and a collection of recommended books from a friend, I'm looking forward to some time to learn and see what I can create.

So how come, when I got up Sunday morning, all I could think was how much I wanted to work on Project Fun? I guess it's partly habit. For months, I've thought of little else each morning. My brain hasn't yet figured out how to turn that off. But it's more than that. I know there are still problems with Project Fun, and I truly love the story and want it to be perfect. And even worse, I love writing. Even when I need a break, I'm not sure how to live a life without daily writing. Hence the blog on a Tuesday!

But I think it's worth trying to stay away. I think it's worth giving my creative self some space. I hope.

Thursday I'll be back again, blogging about how one knows (or doesn't!) when it's time to let other people see your manuscript.

Until then, do you give yourself breaks from writing? What do you do with the sudden free time? Does it drive you nuts, too?

10 comments:

  1. It IS a happy day when Beta readers get your novel. No need to think of the work ahead quite yet. This is a time for a huge pat on the back for taking something from beginning to end.
    I celebrate with you, Anne.

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    1. Aw, thanks for that reminder, Mirka. Now let's party!

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  2. I definitely know that weird empty feeling when you take a break from a project, but you've earned it. Enjoy!

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    1. I wish I could enjoy it more, you know? But working at it! Probably by the time I'm ready to go back to the novel, I'll be totally out of writing practice! *sigh*

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  3. I'm on a break right now. It's funny last night, I was stressing out about all the stuff I needed to fix but then I just opened up a book, started reading, and then I was good. Ha, ha. It's very hard not to want to start work right away but you do NEED that space away to become more objective.

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one that does that! It's such a relief, isn't it? And definitely does support the idea of getting space from our writing!

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  4. Congratulations, Anne, on reaching your goal! Celebrating with you =D

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    1. Thanks! I can use some compatriots to make me celebrate!

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  5. Anne, you might want to check out "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" You'll be making all of your clothes in no time. Congrats on reaching your goal.

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    1. Will it just completely depress me? Yeah, between the struggle to find clothes I like, clothes that are fairly made, and clothes that actually fit me well, making my own clothes is definitely a tempting option. Course, I need to find time for that. And figure out how to stitch in a continuous straight line, but I'm working on that part! ;)

      Thanks for the congrats!

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