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Writing a book means taking a break from the creative process

February 27, 2013

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Let’s say you’re doing a fantastic job of going to the computer every day and writing that book you’ve long dreamed of banging out.

Each day you’re there, furiously pounding out words, the prose flowing like a waterfall. You’re jazzed and excited. Everything is going well. Then, say two thirds through your magnum opus, you suddenly get stuck.

It doesn’t happen while you’re writing, but during those “off hours” when you’re wondering if you’ll be able to keep up this incredible pace you’ve been on. You wake up at four in the morning and wonder where your story is going next. You sit at dinner with your spouse tuned out to what he or she is saying. You aren’t listening to the latest soap opera happenings of the workplace. Not at all.  You’re wondering whether it was a good idea to kill off that colorful character in Chapter Eight, and now, where in God’s name is your book going from here?

You take a long walk or a jog to clear your head. Maybe you head out to the lake to go fishing or down the street to get some coffee or a beer. But still, those doubts about your book are there, and you’re furiously writing and re-writing stuff in your head even if you’re not at the computer. Damn. It’s driving you nuts. Surely, this whole business about being a writer is a curse.

Stop right there.

One of the worst things a writer can do is spend those “off hours” writing. When you’re not writing, you should be taking a break from the book. Don’t spend twenty-four hours a day writing it. You need the downtime away from plots and characters and story lines.

You need to give your brain a break. It all goes back to trusting your instincts. Oh, you may think that you need to be writing all the time, making everything just right. But such a plan of attack can wear a writer out. Eventually, you won’t want to write the damn thing any longer. You’ll find yourself over-thinking the process, instead of following your heart which has guided you so well through much of the writing.

It will become a chore.

The time to throw yourself into that book is those two hours you spend every day actually writing it. As for the rest of the time, don’t fret and worry over the book. It will come out, and you may well be surprised how well it reads when you finish that first draft. Always remember. Editing comes later after you finish that first draft. 

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3 Comments
  1. This is quite relevant for my case. I usually start by making high level notes on what the plot is going to be and how the story is going to progress. Problem with me is, I am unable to start writing until I am sure I’ve figured out exactly how my story is going to progress through all the bends and that really puts me off because it is impossible to figure that out right at the start. That makes me feel I haven’t figured out a proper story and am mostly discouraged. So, I end up making notes of a few different stories, only to kill them prematurely.

    • You can outline to death and write yourself right into corners. Read my book “Write the Darn Book.” It talks all about the fast writing process.

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