Writing After a Break (Or Not)

Since I’m a magpie-type of an author—unless under a deadline (say, for the grant), I write whatever gold and glittery currently strikes my fancy, and I oftentimes prefer to write what’s burning right now to me, and not what I ‘should’ be writing—I tend to run into this issue more often than not. I write a few tens of thousands words in a novel, then leave the copy to write something altogether different (like a whole other novel, which is what I did for NaNo last year), and then go back to the previous thing when I feel the time has come. Which might be next week, next month, or, well, next year.

And I don’t make notes as I write anymore, since I’ve discovered I love the process too much, and in the early days I used to spend a lot of time writing notes rather than writing prose, so I had to stop. There’s nothing to go back to, then, when I finally do pick up the story, other than the story itself—and, of course, the future fragments of plot in the story, if there are any. (Luckily, these days, there almost always are.)

Of course, it only ends up in tearsissues. And, just in case I’m not the only one out there with this particular problem—and to cheer myself on as I finally try to pick up the threads from the novel I basically haven’t written in, at all, in over six months—I’ve jotted down a few hard, but honest truths which definitely fall into the category ‘get over it already’.

You will have to check back details more often than not. If you do make notes as you go along, you’ll know which chapter to check to find out whether the two characters you’re writing about have introduced themselves to each other earlier or not. If you don’t, you guess will be as good as mine, which is not all that bad, lately. Go figure.

You will need time to go back into the rhythm. Sometimes, you will need to procrastinate inbetween paragraphs more often than you usually would. (Sometimes, your procrastination will result in new blog posts, so there’s that.)

You will need to be a little more gentle on yourself. Sure, it would be easier to give it up—it most often is—but that’s not what we’re here for, is it?

You won’t need to read all through the copy you already have – unless the break has been seriously long. (Oh, you want me to talk about what happened when I went back to the First Werewolf Novel after I’d written it and let it be for over three years? Well, guess what—I won’t.) The length which marks the turning point after which you’ve waited too long will be personal, and might be different for different stories, but it’s not like the writing can spoil—it’s not pizza. The only true problem is if you let it rest long enough for you, yourself, to lose interest in the copy. (Still not talking about it.) Be honest with yourself, and don’t force it beyond your limits—you’re still obliged to have fun with this writing thing, more than anything else, dammit.

You will be slower altogether. Though.

You will make mistakes. Which, otherwise, you never do. Never ever. Because you are a robot, not a writer. Right?

You will need to be more careful with picking up the plot threads. And it’s not just the plot details—it’s the drama between characters, or the lack thereof, and how well each and every character has gotten to know the other characters, and whether you had reached the tipping point in their relationships—the one you have all laid out in your head, but which you might’ve not reached in the last writing session.

You won’t have to give up on the novel, no matter how bleak the effort seems. Trust me on this. Oh, yeah, unless you can’t-won’t-shouldn’t go back to the novel at all. Writing into the future is totally acceptable.

You won’t have to rewrite—unless you’ve taken a few years’ break and you’ve become a whole different person and that’s not how werewolves work and you’re screwed no matter what you do.

So stick in there, give yourself a (personal) break, and go, go, go!

 

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Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash.