Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breathing Room

I'm nearing completion of the WIP MS, and as I do, I find myself longing for some breathing room. I feel like I've been holed up in my room forever, turning down social engagements and trying to crank out pages. My head is so filled with this book, it's all I can do to write a damn grocery list, let alone even consider any other project. All I can see is this story and the characters in it, what they're doing to each other and what the heck is gonna happen when everything collides together at the end.

Part of my timeline for getting this novel produced is letting the manuscript rest for a few weeks between completion of the first draft and the first editing run-through. I plan to use those weeks to work on some short stories, sort of as a mental palate-cleanser. I've been in my fictional town of Bulton for nine months now, almost ten, and it's time to see new things and new places in my mind's eye.

Getting the first draft of this huge project off my desk is going to be a relief, and I don't want to start something that long again for at least a few months. I know, too, that I'm only nearing the end of the first step; there's going to be a thorough revision process, and I need to get my head wrapped around that concept before I start another lengthy piece of work, and figure out how everthing fits into a new timeline.

Now that I've worked writing into my everyday(ish) schedule, I don't want to stop. I used to take long breaks between spells of writing - sometimes months would pass before I would pick up something and tinker with it - but I can't even begin to imagine living that way now. I'm delighted at the idea of using the time my MS needs to take a few shorts for a spin. Imagine, a tiny little piece of writing, with hardly any commitment at all! A perfect study of the abbreviated scene, the focus on action, the striking images needed to ensnare a reader in 6,000 words. And something I can add to my portfolio to boot! Man, that sounds like fun!

When you finish a long project, what do you do to give yourself some breathing room? Do you jump right into the next long project, or switch it up a little for variety?

23 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Oh god no! Break! Break! Break! I'd have nervous breakdown ... LOL

Talli Roland said...

Take a break! Have a breather and let yourself relax.

Rae said...

Congrats for getting so far in the writing process! I'm a procrastinator and never get past the first chapter! Something puts a wall up and I lose interest. Take a break- and hopefully enjoy your much deserved success!

Piedmont Writer said...

You know you need a break when you start writing grocery lists for your characters. Take a break, at least two weeks, and aclimate yourself to the real world. Then you can go back to writing whatever you wish. I take a two week break every three months, that way I know my daughter still loves me and all the laundry is completely done. Dinner with friends is always nice too.

Candyland said...

I take a break for as long as it takes for me to start again. It's usually a much needed BREAK!

Palindrome said...

Definitely a break afterwards. It helps you gain distance from the writing as well. Then you can read it objectively.

I do like to jump into another project immediately. I've been jotting down notes for other ideas while I'm writing the first draft. So then I can start a new project right away.

Laura Marcella said...

Good for you! It's true that writing repetitively and regularly makes it easier to keep doing so. If you do take a beak (and everyone needs one now and then!), don't make it too long!

KarenG said...

Like you, I get so wrapped up in it that when it's finished, I have to take a break. Usually for 3 or 4 weeks. During that time I try to get my balance back and do all the stuff I ignored while writing.

Lisa K. said...

Enjoy that much-deserved break between finishing your draft and beginning revisions. Although I write every single day without fail, I try to change it up, particularly after I finish a long project, so I tend to have a few things in the works at any given time. And I think short short stories are a great thing to work on during those in-between times. Best of luck finishing your WIP

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

When I take a break, I read. I don't dare write anything else because it always clouds the "voice." And I don't catch up on laundry, or the dishes, or whatever else I've been neglecting. I run a hot bath and I read and read and read.

Dawn said...

Definitely take a break! Read. Take up a new hobby (like photography). And if you DO want to keep writing, make it something completely different than your WIP. (I write a couple of genres, so I tend to have another "different" project in the pipeline all the time.)
And congrats! Finishing is a massive accomplishment.

Watery Tart said...

I'm having sort of a forced break at the moment and find it is stressing me to no end. I want SO BAD to dive back out of reality and WRITE, but timing wise, it would be stupid. I finished my latest (5th) novel in April, but have also JUST submitted revisions for a Cozy Mystery contract. If I GET the contract, I will need to shoot out of the gate QUICKLY, so I can't AFFORD to be invested in another project at that point. If I DON'T get it, I have two books that need editing, but honestly, would only edit until June 1st, and then the Burrow is doing a little mini-WriMo that I REALLY want to participate in.

Part of my problem is I can't really write shorts. Damn short stories just fill my head with full novels that need writing and there I am committed again... (probably that's just me)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I gave it some breathing room, but I've jumped back into my next big project.

Like the above poster, too!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I take a nice, long break. However long I need to feel motivated and hungry to work again. :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

I like to take a bit of a break and read. I also start fiddling with new ideas, but I don't write for a bit - I do need to clear that head. :)

Angie Paxton said...

Congrats on nearing completion. I'm a bit jealous. When I finish I read and read and read some more because that's the one thing I really miss when I'm in the midst of a writing frenzy, how much time I don't have to read. I usually don't write again until another idea pops it's little head up and say 'write me'.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You can't stop! Or at least, I can't. I've taken a tiny break recently, but am diving back into the next big project. Once writing becomes an every day thing, it's hard not to do it.

Lola Sharp said...

I advise a break! This is a great time of year to do so...get outside, hang out with real life friends, read.

I gave you an award today, and blogged about your contest. :)

Happy Friday/Weekend, friend!
Love,
Lola

Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations on being so committed to writing. It's smart to wait a few weeks between writing and editing. That's what Stephen King recommends.

I used to take longer breaks, but I don't want to do that anymore. I'm happier when I'm writing.

Falen said...

i take a break. But that's mostly because i'm lazy...

Jojomama said...

There really is nothing better than getting through the BIG one. I am in rewrites now. Bleh--but it is a complete novel and I feel so great that I saw it through to the end!

J M.Smith said...

Crack open a bottle of wine, print the entire thing out, and hide it from myself. Then I go out into the real world, and try to remember how to socialize. Then, just when I'm beginning to feel human, I'll accidentally find the stupid thing, but at this point I can read through it and edit it like a bad college paper you have to read from your neighbor during class (get a red pen, it feels official).

Nishant said...

Take a break! Have a breather and let yourself relax.
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