What I’m Working On in 2014

iStock_000023625973XSmallI 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?


  1. So exciting Tash!! I’m glad to read your new ideas on the boil: I just love it when an idea is born! Happy days!

    • Hi Neets, yes I have no word count to show for the last 6 or 7 weeks but I do have a much more focussed idea of what I want to do this year, which I think is a good thing. Now to get down and actually do it!

  2. Time away from writing is not only valuable, sometimes it’s necessary, I believe. I think our subconscious brain is still writing during that time away, although our conscious brain is having a much-needed holiday. Sometimes, maybe even often, the best ideas come during a break. Your 2014 looks exciting! I’m sure it will go well — you have the skill, the creativity and the discipline. What a package! 🙂

    • I agree Louise – but the key thing for me was to give myself permission to not write. I felt like a slacker at first! But now I can see how much I needed to just think. Thinking is underrated, I reckon! And good luck to you in 2014 too.

  3. I put it out to the universe that I was going to write this year and the universe has (unexpectedly) answered me back. I’m blogging for Perth Culture now which I love plus I have set myself a 120 day writing challenge, starting tomorrow, heavily influenced by Gretchen Rubin’s novel The Happiness Project which I read towards the end of last year. I have also set about reading. I was always a lazy reader and would be lucky to read three books in a year, however I am thrilled (like really super-duper thrilled) to say I have read three books in a month! I’ve read The Binding Chair by Kathyn Harrison (which I picked up for 50c while on holiday in Denmark), Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (upon your recommendation) and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (which I loved). I’m now onto my fourth novel for the year, The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling, so far so good. Something about you and your class has lit such a flame in me for writing and reading that I am loving this new path. I always had the urge to write, now I know I can and will do it.

    • Hi Tabetha, what a great opportunity for you in 2014. Well done, you must be loving it! So pleased to hear you’ve been immersed in reading – did you like Gone Girl and Burial Rites? And thank you for your lovely words – all of my students inspire me too so it’s a two way process.

  4. marlish glorie

    IIn a sense, you’re not taking a break from your writing, Natasha. Because writing a novel is so much more than sitting at a laptop or computer. It is also ,as you are doing, engaging with the world, observing, listening, taking notes, thinking, reading, thinking some more, wondering . A writer’s mind is a sponge which can only be squeezed so many times, it needs replenishing. Your projects for 2014 sound fantastic and I wish you every success with them. p.s. And yes, for 2014, I’ll be tapping away at my new novel. 🙂

    • You’re absolutely right Marlish, but in the frantic rush to get books written in a two hour per weekday timeframe, I’d forgotten the value of not being quite so busy. I am fully replenished, refreshed and recharged with enthusiasm now. And so glad to hear you’re working away on another novel. I look forward to hearing about it.

  5. Yes, Natasha I really enjoyed both Gone Girl and Burial Rites. Gone Girl because of how twisted Amy and Nick’s relationship became and the evilness that ensued. I have always been a lover of deciphering clues, puzzles, solving mysteries, so this book played right into my psyche. Such a clever plot that had me loving Amy then loathing her. Burial Rites, I enjoyed for some of those reasons too. I was trying to work out what had happened on the night of the fire and whether Anges’ part in it was unintentional or was she set up. I hated Natan, wanted to save Anges, cure Margret, kill Fredrick, punch Lauga, and hug Reverend Toti. Such rich characters. I found I always felt cold when I read the book and bleak. The way Hannah Kent described the house and landscape I literally felt like I was there, under dark clouds, a distant sound of the grey ocean in my ears, constantly damp. It was how I felt when reading The Book Thief. Saying all that I feel richer for reading all of them.

    • Thanks for your comments on both books – I got my husband to read Gone Girl to see how a boy would react to it and he really enjoyed it too, if enjoyed is the right word for a book like that! And Hannah Kent deserves her recent prize winning too, doesn’t she?

  6. Absolutely! And Gillian Flynn needs a good therapist, if thats what’s going on in her head! 😉

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  9. annabelsmith

    Sounds like the break was very productive, and 2014 looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for you in terms of your writing. I’m glad to hear you’ve found some new energy for your abandoned novel. I also had a 6 week break and am taking a new approach to writing this year – doing my writing first thing in the morning, and not allowing myself to spend time on other tasks until I’ve reached my word limit for the day. So far, so good.

    • Hi Annabel, I need to do something like that too. I’m not used to being at my desk in the morning and so I’m worried I’m going to fritter away my time now that I have 3 full days to work. So far, I’ve done nothing but have meetings on his kindy days because I now suddenly have time to have meetings when I want. Back to writing next week – I think all the meetings are over with by then!

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