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 Not a problem if you’re George RR Martin or Diana Gabaldon; but a problem when you’re an unpublished writer writing YA.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 a 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 to bad writing? I know I do!
Do you take a break while drafting? Why? How has it helped or hurt you?