Yes, you heard me correctly. I know you’ve poured hundreds, thousands of sleepless hours into your writing. I know you’re probably the type of person who likes to fully complete big projects in one sitting. BUT…
This is the BEST advise you’ll ever hear. YOU NEED TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR WRITING and possibly, your writing environment.
I didn’t say divorce. I said separate.
It’s hard, I know. But putting your writing away, especially when you hit a mental roadblock, will allow you to come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. It will also give you the chance to read a lot of other books, which will spur creativity and give you new writing ideas for your own book.
I took several breaks when writing “Becoming American,” and though it was tough, it allowed me the time to do more research for it and surprisingly, when I wasn’t focused on trying to develop new story lines and characters, they started coming to me as I read other World War II personal accounts. I’d take notes in a notebook, but didn’t write unless it was very heavy on my mind. Yukio’s character didn’t enter the book until the month before the manuscript was due. One month before, after working on this over years.
Taking a break after a first draft, (like a 3-6 month break), will also give you the permission to work on other writing projects. It’s okay to have a few different manuscripts going at a time. I’ve been bouncing between three very different projects for the past couple of years: a middle grade historical fiction from colonial times, a young adult historical fiction from early fur-trading years and a Depression-era young adult historical fiction.
And you know what? I had been writing the Depression-era book like crazy for weeks, full of optimism and knowing how I wanted the book to turn out. And, then it happened.
Writer’s Block. I tried and tried, but nothing would come out. I couldn’t think of anything to write or how to tie the characters together. I couldn’t think of any plot points. Period.
So, here I am, four weeks into my break and still nothing. But, I am reading fun thrillers and waiting for inspiration to hit when I least expect it. And when it does, hopefully I’ll have a fully-inked pen or very sharpened pencil handy:)