Mar 24, 2009

A Possible Break from Writing...is it Necessary?

I have been considering the fact it may possibly be time to take a break from my novel. I am suddenly dreaming about agent queries and red pens. My back is in desperate need of a chiropractor. Possibly writing a book while sitting on a small wicker stool is a bad idea??? Most recently, I have found it impossible to spend more time actually editing than merely staring at this white piece of paper, adorned in black ink with numerous red and blue pen corrections. (That's correct my friends, I FINALLY broke out the red pen! Gasp!) It has taken on the appearance of pretty art project rather than actual words.

**ALTHOUGH, props to me for keeping my kids alive and well along with a clean house WHILE spending countless hours staring at my manuscript, blogs about publishing, and thesaurus.com!!!**

I have been so dedicated to this novel, I have barely spent an entire day away from it in the last six months. My manuscript has become my new infant. I find myself back to the days where I was afraid to leave the tiny little child, the one that barely filled an entire arm with it's petite body, alone with the babysitter. Instead of taking the risk of another person feeding my fragile baby, I forgo leaving the house or having a life outside my precious new creation. I am not afraid to leave the manuscript with a baby sitter of course, actually I refuse to leave it in the hands of any other human being. (Call it "Paranoia" that someone is going to steel it and sell it on the black market for millions of dollars. Some of the same fears I had leaving my children with unfamiliar babysitters....) The real problem is the fear I may never finish it if I leave it alone for a day. If I walk away, I may find myself too burnt out to come back.

Fortunately I may not have much of a choice next week with my children being on Spring Break. Entertaining three children leaves little time for writing and editing. Bring on the coloring books and Legos, the Macaroni & Cheese lunches and the never ending "He's touching me!", "She looked at me first." and "But I don't want to clean my room!" There may be no other choice available than to put down the sentences that "Show" vs. "Tell". It will be time to set aside the Prepositional Phrases. And it will be heart braking to take a week away from the Vivid Red Pen. Hopefully it will be a positive thing.....

My question for all those writers out there....Do you keep going till there is nothing left to write or edit? Do you just keep plugging at it until you could recite the entire manuscript in your sleep? Or is there a point where you just put it down and take a break from it?


8 comments:

T. Anne said...

I take a break when I through the with manuscript Not a long one just some breathing room before the edit. BTW, I'm envious that your house is clean. My house suffers the most. Off to clean...

Marybeth said...

I'm about 2 weeks over due from my break in that case. I suppose after round one edits would be equally as enjoyable :) And yes...a clean house...I can't stand a mess. It's really irritating actually to not be able to go an entire day without picking up. But that's an entire blog of it's own!!! :D

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I don't like to take breaks when I am working on my first draft (although I have when it is unavoidable), but once rewrites starts it usually helps to purposefully take a little time off just to get some distance and be able to clearly see what is and is not working.

Jessica said...

Hmm, well did you take a break after you finished the rough draft? That always helps. No, I don't keep going and going. After I do one revision, I sub chapters to my group and I have a friend who reads the whole manuscript. Actually, a few writer friends. If your eyes are blurring though, it might be time for a small break. :-)
Very, very cool blog! I love it.

Marybeth said...

I did not break after the rough draft...I am now finding that to be a bit of an "oops!" But now that I am almost done with the first set of revisions I think I am going to shoot it off to my editors and sit back and "relax" (Can some one please let me know what that word actually means???)

Oh and thanks for the compliment on the blog. My husband had a blast designing it! (But in case you were talking about my fabulous blog entries, I'm blushing!)

Jenny Penny said...

1) Okay, I have been feeling quite guilty about not having read through your latest draft yet. QUITE! But I do have to admit that I thought it would be the sort of thing that could sit for a while -- sit while I did my own writing and washed underwear and changed diapers and waited for moments of sunshine and babysitters, waited for that just-right mindset that's hard to find when one's been washing underwear and lacking sunshine. I believe my guilt is tied largely to how productive I see you being as I follow along on your status updates on blog! You are attacking the thing like a woman who means business! Rrrrroar.

2) My experience with writing (note: my only experience writing a novel-length anything was a year working on a still-unfinished nonfiction piece) is that it's always good to walk away for a while after you've written the whole enchilada. You gotta get a fresh perspective, and if you're like me, you will really get a charge out of reading it after you've been away from it for a while. It's much easier for me to rewrite when I've had some time/space.

3) A friend of mine in Seattle who published her first book last year was writing the thing when I met her about eight years ago; so, yeah, it took her many years -- drafting it, rewriting it, workshopping it, querying agents and publishers, etc. That's probably the extreme end of a writing timeline. I once participated in a writing workshop with Terry McMillan. She was annoying, but I distinctly remember her saying she completed her breakout novel Mama in something like two weeks, while at a writer's colony. Egad. My point is, I'm sure every writer's different. Maybe you're the type that can do it all in one fell swoop, without getting too close to see the proverbial forest for the trees!

Jenny Penny said...

P.S. I guess I've actually written two novel-length things, if I count my above comment. Sorry for taking up so much space. Geez!

Marybeth said...

1. Get to work lady! Let's get this puppy finished. (Pot calling Kettle black here!!!) Actually I haven't done much this week with it either. I am just now (today) getting back to editing. But I get how being a mom makes it more difficult. I have no kids today, and that is the only reason I'm making headway! LOL

2. It did feel good to step away this week. I agree. Having a fresh perspective is making it a tad bit easier.

3. I heard one story of it taking an author 20 years to get published! UGH! I'm going for the Stephanie Meyer approach. Ok well I've passed the 6 month threshold...How about a year??? 2, 5???

And thank you for letting me be the first to read your second novel! LOL