Take a Break


After NaNo, I was exhausted, and also a little lost in the forest that was my WIP…

But I wasn’t done with it.

So on December 1st, I made up a writing plan for the month, announced my #NaNoReDo (I didn’t really need a redo so much as a #NaNoContinueToDo) and got to work.

That lasted for one day, before I took a look at my 67K WIP and realized I was still SO FAR from the end, that at this rate it was going to be a 300K novel. Not a problem if you’re George RR Martin or Diana Gabaldon; but a problem when you’re an unpublished writer writing YA.

I tried to keep writing. I tried to power through. But it didn’t work.

So I stopped.

For a whole week. I wrote not a single word.

Instead, I brainstormed. I read. I got into a new TV show (I’m watching and reading Outlander simultaneously … while also listening to a podcast about the book and show #obsessed). I cooked. I cleaned.

But I didn’t write.

Counterproductive? The opposite, in fact.

Last night, I sat down in front of the dreaded WIP, looked at what I had so far, looked at my outline — and fixed it.

(The outline, that is. It will take considerably longer than one evening to fix all the words written so far.)

Sometimes, you need distance to get clarity. I firmly believe that if I’d continued to force myself to muddle through, I would have met my word counts, sure — but would any of those words been any good to me in the end?

Sometimes we need to stop and look at the forest before we continue on through the trees. And that’s not being a lazy writer. It’s being aΒ smart writer.

Feel free to disagree with me, of course. But it’s taken me a while to be able to forgive myself for these “lazy” periods, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it anymore. No time you spend writing is time wasted — even if you scrap the entire thing, you’ve gotten practice and you’ve learned something, even if it’s just what not to do — but don’t you prefer good writing toΒ bad writing? I know I do!

Do you take a break while drafting? Why? How has it helped or hurt you?

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

15 thoughts on “Take a Break

  1. I do take breaks. After I write a post about a case in draft I put it aside. I read it three days later again, edit, and save. The next day I polish, add photography, and schedule it for a certain date. I always make changes after those three days, find mistakes or redundant words.


  2. Breaks are always needed at one point or another. I’ve always been told that us that go, go, go, go, go, and GO have to rest so that we can do it all over again. We have to refresh our minds every once in a while. It does us good. Before November was even halfway over, I knew I was going to stay away from my NaNoWriMo2016 draft for an entire month. I’ll tackle it in January. By then, I know I’ll be able to look at it as if it’s a whole new story. I’ll be able to look at it more as a reader than the person who created it – which means I’ll be able to do my best editing.


    1. Oh, I need to take at least a 3 month break between drafting and revising the same work — I really need that distance. But usually in that 3 months I’ll work on something else, either a new draft or revising something old. This past break I did literally no writing for almost 10 days, which is kind of unusual for me, but my brain really needed it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That happens sometimes. Occasionally, you need to take a hiatus. Before NaNo this year, I took one for months – way longer than I intended. But NaNo definitely got me back into the swing of writing. And even though I’m taking a break from my draft, I’m working on short stories and blog posts.


  3. I’ve taken twelve days off, but today I start again! Mine is probably going to end up around 100K, but it will be cut down considerably during editing. I’m just freewriting it out for now. πŸ™‚


  4. Very clever decision. I did it wrong the first time around, ending up with a 150k word novel which of course didn’t get any positive feedback at agencies. With the sequel I did the opposite, stopped at 90k when I realized that it was done. Always a lesson learnt I guess…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s