On Taking Time Off From Writing

This isn’t the blog post I thought I’d be writing, but here we are. I’m just going to go right out and say it–this week I haven’t done a ton of writing. Or reading. (Unless you count Monday, when I whizzed through more than half of Starfish, which you should all check out when it releases in September!) And I think a lot of writers see this as a guilty thing.
“I didn’t hit x number of words, so I shouldn’t be doing x, y, z,” for example. Or constantly thinking about writing, so much so that it pervades our dreams while we sleep. (We all have weird writing/publishing dreams, right? No? Just me…)

It’s not like I haven’t done much work for no reason. But sometimes, we writers just want to flop on our couches and call it a day. And I think, sometimes, it’s okay to give yourself permission to do that. So much of writing these days has turned into a battle between getting all the words written and writing slowly and methodically. I don’t mean to say that writing sprints aren’t good (because I love them) or that you should only be writing slowly, because every writer is different, and we all have our own pace and speed. But I think a lot of writers are associating writing quickly with getting the product out quickly, which isn’t always the case.

Take us, for example. We wrote a manuscript in 2 months, took a month off, and then revised it the next month before landing an agent. That is extremely fast and by no means what we expected. But that doesn’t mean that everything is go-go-go in the publishing industry, either. It’s summer, things are slowing down, and we’re really taking our time revising this manuscript. Why? Because it deserves time. It deserves slow, methodical thought, excruciatingly long world-building outlines (and lots of maps…). Which is all to say: we don’t want to rush things. It’s all right to take a little time off from writing once in a while. I barely wrote this week, and when I finally got back into things yesterday, it still wasn’t a ton. But I wrote (or rather, I edited…) and that was what mattered. Not that I did a lot of work, but that I did something after a long week of nothing, nothing, nothing. And after a long week of reading nothing, nothing, nothing, I recently picked up where I left off in Windwitch and I am fascinated by the world Susan Dennard has built. Each word, each line, is there for a reason. It’s a book that’s really making me think of my own manuscript’s world-building, and its writing.

Because it’s finally offering me some inspiration after a week of writers’-drought. (Is that a thing? I’m making it a thing.)

This is becoming a long, rambly post, so to sum things up–writers, don’t be afraid to take time off. To enjoy nature (yes, bugs and all…), to see things around you differently, to read voraciously and find inspiration in books and the world in general. It’s really eye-opening, once you take some time off your manuscript, to come back to it and see where things can be changed or cut, and where you’ve grown and strengthened as a writer since.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know everything about everything when it comes to the world-building in my own manuscript (yet!) but, in this revision, I’m working on it. I’m slowly, methodically, working my way through my own questions, so that someday, I can answer them for myself. (And so I can get this book revised.)

If you’re having a tough time with your manuscript, all I can say is let it be for a while. Sometimes inspiration strikes within the most unexpected places.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

S&S

2 thoughts on “On Taking Time Off From Writing

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