I made the decision at the start of the school summer holidays to lock my work-in-progress away and leave it alone for a couple of months. Complicated editing left my brain aching and I was no longer sure if I had something good or the worst thing ever written in the history of the written word. I couldn’t look at it objectively – all I could see was a big, tangled mess. Definitely time to let go and walk away before I deleted the whole thing. So I did think my turn on LCOAW would be a very short and not-so-sweet ‘I’ve done nothing in the last two months’… but sometimes the down times can be productive in other ways.
- Progress has been made on the next book – I have a sheet full of post-it notes, a notebook slowly filling with character and plot notes.
- My house is tidier. (Not tidy – but tidier…)
- My garden has real flowers in it, not just weeds.
- I’ve caught up on a lot of reading – all ready to top up the TBR pile with lots of lovely new releases.
And most importantly, I’ve had time to spend with my daughters – trips to the park, the beach, the cinema – picnics and playtime and fun. Sometimes that’s as important for grown-ups as it is for kids!
Last week, I went on holiday – first week away in the sun for many years – and it was total bliss. A wonderful week of relaxing and reading. Mostly there was a lot of this:
But I did also put the work-in-progress on my kindle to take with me. Having rested it, I was ready to read it through again – away from the computer so I couldn’t edit as I went along, but armed with a notebook so I could make brief notes.
The time away from it worked wonders – as did the lack of access to a computer. I read it through in one go and could see right away the problem that’s been bogging me down for ages, and I could see how to resolve it. And as soon as the children go back to school next week, I’m going to sit down, re-edit and finally call the book finished!
On the first day of our holiday, the first thing my daughters did was jump straight in the pool with all their clothes on. I was more cautious – one toe at a time… that’s how it’s been with this book. Changing genre is scary and I’ve been nervous about jumping straight in – it’s definitely been a one toe at a time kind of book, nudged and encouraged along by my agent. Maybe by the time I get stuck into the next one, I’ll be braver – maybe I’ll even jump straight in 🙂
4 thoughts on “Life Cycle of a Writer – Jumping in and letting go”
Well done, Vanessa! I honestly think down time is an essential part of the writing process, enabling you to read your wip through with fresh eyes. I’m currently indulging in some myself. The pool beckoning outside the patio window of my Portugal holiday villa helps the old brain slip into neutral I find. I haven’t had the urge to leap in fully clothed yet, but … 😉 Go you! xx
Thanks Sheryl! Enjoy Portugal… and go on, jump in!! Vanessa xx
I am totally in agreement with this. So easy to let writing take control making you lose focus on all the other elements of your life. You won’t write a better book by spending the majority of your day in front of the PC. It’s all about balance. Thank you Vanessa, a great post!
Thanks Jo – the break from it was as refreshing as a dip in the pool!