I know I’m always saying that one of the keys to writing is to be consistent—to write regularly. Well, rules are made to be broken as the cliche goes and today I’m here to talk about why taking a break from writing is sometimes a good thing.
Many of you might know that I squeeze my writing time into 2 hours every weekday when my 3 year old has an afternoon nap. That means my writing time has to be highly productive—I don’t have any time to waste so I don’t waste it. I don’t procrastinate, I’m very focussed and I plough through the words at a steady pace. All of which is great as a habit, but it can have its drawbacks.
It means I have no time to think beyond the book I’m currently working on, no time to read interesting things about writers and writing that I see on the web, no time to have other writing projects on the go. So when I shut up the laptop on the latest draft of my next book at the end of November last year, I said to myself, I’m going to take December and January off. Have a holiday.
Which didn’t mean I didn’t work. I just didn’t write words for a book. I did lots of thinking. And it was bliss. It’s amazing how the mind works—give it some time and space and ideas grow.
I’ve had several half-formed ideas kicking around in my brain for the last 6 months, all of which I’d discounted because they didn’t seem quite right. Having the time to think about them, the time to research and the time to brainstorm made me realise that the ideas themselves were great, but last year just wasn’t the right time for me to turn them from ideas into books and projects.
But this year is. My 3 year old will be at kindy three days a week, which is one of those sad/happy things. I will certainly have a bit more time to work and I can see this will give me the space to work on more than one thing at a time.
In 2014 I’m planning to:
1. Revive a writing project that I began last year feeling passionate about, did some work on and then fell out of love with, all because of a badly-timed comment from someone whose opinion mattered to me. But my opinion matters to me too and, upon taking another look at it, I’ve fallen back in love with the project and have decided to pitch it and see what happens. It’s very different to anything I’ve done before and I’m really excited about it.
2. I had the germ of an idea for a children’s book a few months ago and I tried to brainstorm it out, but I couldn’t quite get it to work. Over the holidays, plot threads have literally been dropping out of the sky and into my open hands and I’ve been jotting them all down, and I think I now have a book idea that I’m ready to start work on.
3. Project No. 3 is super-exciting. It’s not a book. But I’ve been considering ways to make my popular writing Novel-Writing courses and How to Get Published courses more accessible to more people. And I’ve come up with something which will take a lot of work, but I’m sure will be worth it in the end. More news on that in a few months’ time.
How about you? Did you have a break over December/January? Was it productive thinking and brainstorming time for you too? What are you planning to work on in 2014?