Withdrawal and wishful thinking

Having finished the first draft of the novel I was working on, I’ve been taking a break from fiction writing during January and February… partly to get some perspective on the draft before I revise, and partly to focus on my other career for a bit.

The plan is to balance both careers, of course. I’m suffering serious withdrawal from fiction, and simply cannot wait until March when I’ll get my head back into it. But now that I’m self-employed I do need to make sure there are some dollars coming in. (The fruits of these labours will be announced in the next few weeks.)

In the meantime, here’s another short reprised post from January 2011. Somewhat ironically (considering where I’m at right now), it was called Momentum. Call it wishful thinking…

***

Just about every writer I know will endorse the philosophy of ‘write every day’. One of the primary reasons is to foster habit (especially among those of us who are holding down full-time jobs — which is most of us); another is to maintain momentum.

I am a momentum writer. Time and again I’ve demonstrated that if I lay the story aside for longer than a week or so, it takes a tremendous amount of energy and time to get back into the zone. Loss of habit is certainly a factor, but in my case it’s more about losing my handle on the emotional level of my characters. Sure, there’s a loss of general train of thought, but I usually know broadly where events are going. Problem is, it’s the characters that need to get me there, and if I’ve lost my grip on them emotionally it’s, well, impossible actually and demands copious reading back over past chapters to reestablish a connection.

So for me writing every day is ten times more effective and efficient than having good weeks and bad weeks. Not only does it mean that I am more productive during the allotted writing periods, but I am able to utilise much smaller and less convenient time-windows. For instance, I am far more likely to commence a writing session after 10pm, or utilise a half-hour slot.

Even better, when my momentum is good and I am writing every day, I am so much happier than when I’m not.

***

The above remains true for me, although I have found over the past year that around four sessions a week works just as well — and in some ways a little better when I’m writing a first draft, because it gives me rumination time in which to come up with the next part of the story.

But the momentum thing is still very true. It’s going to be hard work to get back into my WIP after a two month break…

4 comments

  1. I know what you mean about getting back to a WiP after taking a break from it. I haven’t looked at my novel in a long time because I’ve been spending time on shorter projects in order to get more experience revising stuff before tackling it. It might be weird at first to look at your project after a break, but both you and your book will probably benefit from the break. I bet you’ll see what your book can become, and that will be pretty exciting 🙂

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    1. Yes, I think it’s always good to get some distance… My vision has a habit of getting larger and more complex with every draft though, which can lead to the frustration of never quite getting to the point when I’m happy with it. Will be interesting to see how I go. Not too long now!

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  2. Since we all set goals/intentions in January, I have managed 250 good words a day. I’m being obsessive about it now and I’m afraid to stop. I love this momentum. However, at some point, I will need to let it sit and simmer. I know it’s really good to step back from the writing – and then edit with fresh eyes. Like you are reading someone else’s work!

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