Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Taking Breaks

Once you get to the end of your first draft, you'll fall into one of two camps.

The "OMG THIS IS AWESOME WRITING!!!" Perky Writers and

The "HOLY SHIT THIS SUCKS" Emo Writers.

If you're lucky, you'll be on an island in the middle. And friendly with campers on both sides. Actually, I think this situation is by far more preferable to either of the above camps.

Why? Well. You think that the Perkies are best? No. Because Perkies tend not to have a clue as to the depth of the suckiness in their first drafts. I mean... Really. I don't think I know anyone who writes a publishable first draft. And as unassuming as I am, I think I'd secretly hate that person if I did. Ahem. There's also a special class of Perky. The Delusional. Don't be one. They're usually the least popular kids at camp. Seriously. Other writers often want to drown them.

On the other end are the Emos. They don't think that anything they produce is worthwhile. So. When they edit, there's a serious risk that they'll cut out too much, even jewels that really should have stayed. They have been known to take out a story's very soul during edits. Because they just can't stop tweaking.

See? The island is best. Come chill out away from the terrible over-confidence or the negativity. How? By taking a break. Catch up on t.v. Write something else. Paint. Take that non-writing holiday you sort of planned. Don't read your story or work on it for a while. By this I mean, if you remember a detail from something you wrote a few weeks ago, leave the book alone. What you want is the thrill of discovering something new every time you open your WiP to work on it. This includes rewrites, revisions and EVERY. SINGLE. ROUND. OF. EDITS.

Because if you veer towards either camp mentioned above, your edits are sunk until you can be neutral about your work again.

So, veteran novelists. Which camp do you usually belong to? How do you prefer to get away from your book?

22 comments:

Tyrean Martinson said...

I definitely fall towards the emo camp, but I'm doing better at staying on the island at the moment.

M.J. Fifield said...

I trend toward the emo camp. But I always visit the island in between drafts. Taking a break from your work is such a helpful, vital thing.

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

I'm all for taking a break especially if I'm writing a long poem as it tends to start the pains in my arms and shoulders.
Enjoyed the read.
Yvonne.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

I like your analogy and think it is totally true. I try to hang out on the island with you, but I'm really more a part of the emo camp. I think it comes from just having lived a life filled with a lot of disappointments. It just happens.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm somewhere in the middle.

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Misha! I'm closer to the emo group, sadly. I'm always marveling at the writers in my twitter feed who exclaim how good their writing is. I wish I had that confidence and assurance! In the middle is best, but it's not easy to get there.

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I'm definitely a "take a break" writer. Sometimes when I'm not thinking about a story, I come up with exactly what I need to handle that stubborn, terrible, rotten scene. I think my brain has a writer section running silently in the background, waiting for me let it run without interference.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I like to take writing breaks every once in a while, because it gives me a chance to do things I don't usually have time to do, like watch a play or go to an art museum. And usually, seeing other people's work inspires me to get back to my own.

Michael Di Gesu said...

For me, I'm like you ... on the island in the middle. My first novel I obsessed over, but I learned by the second one to LEAVE THEM ALONE ... for a while I am back on my first novel after leaving it for about a year. It had gone through WAY TOO many edits and I felt I was losing it so I dropped it and worked on other things.

I agree wit you. Taking breaks is a great way to rekindle your romance with your work.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've found that after writing a saga, I need some time away from both the characters and writing before writing the next book about them, or any book, period. I need time to unwind and get back to normal, and don't want to experience burnout. That's happened several times when I tried to immediately begin writing the next book in a series. The spark wasn't there, after all the time I'd already spent with these people, putting so much emotional investment into them.

I experienced something similar after reading War and Peace—it was such a major experience, a huge reading high, that I couldn't get into the next book I began reading, Leon Uris's Trinity. It wasn't about not being interested in the book and not wanting to read it, but just needing time to breathe and be able to get into a new cast of characters with that same kind of intimacy and intensity.

M Pax said...

Some days I'm a total Emo. :D Most days I'm on an island. I hate the Emo days.

Beth said...

I tend to alternate camps based on how well it's going at the moment.

Susan Kane said...

I don't know...could I be in a rowboat close to the island? Like Beth, I bounce from one to another.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I'm kind of emo now. I was a complete Perkie as a teen.

shelly said...

I'm a perkemo.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

michelle said...

I suppose the trick is to find the balance between perky and emo...
I like Shelly's word - perkemo!

Writer In Transit

Jeff Hargett said...

Such fantastic advice.

Andrea said...

Fearing the delusion!!! ;)

Botanist said...

I think I managed to land on the island this time around. I love my current WIP, but know it needs work. When putting it out for critique, hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Yes, taking breaks away is a vital strategy for sanity retention.

Sangita Kalarickal said...

I totally relate! Some parts of my novel make me an Emo, and some, island. I wish there were Perky parts. Grrk.

SA Larsenッ said...

Regretfully, I think I'm an Emo. Blah. Finishing a manuscript is almost anti-climatic for me. Strange. I just can't seem to enjoy that accomplishment, too busy realizing I have to start all over again with a new project. New goal: adopt Perky attitude!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm getting better at being on that island in the middle, although I do tend to lean more toward Emo. I'm able to see the good buried in the crud way more than I used to.