Saturday, March 10, 2012

Giving yourself a break

My friend Margaret recently finished the first complete draft of her second book and sent it off to her editor. The editor replied very quickly (within a week) with many ideas for improving it, including some deep structural changes and additions needed. While Margaret was grateful and that kind of advice is exactly what she's paying the editor for, she wasn't ready to start in again so soon. In an email conversation with her last week, I reminded her that finishing the draft was a big deal, and that it was okay to give herself a break. Her deadlines are self-imposed and more importantly, her brain may not yet be refreshed.

I find myself in a version of that situation this morning. Yesterday I finished the second big section of my current novel, Frankie's back story. I didn't write very much yesterday that was new, about 50 words in all, but I reworked the ending and added some text and got something that was very satisfying for me.

Then yesterday afternoon I went for a walk on the beach with friends and ended up walking by myself as I wanted a faster pace. I had about a half hour to myself and I began thinking about the next section. I knew where it started and ended (dovetailing into the rest of the story) but didn't know what all events had transpired for this character. While I don't work from an outline, I do like to have some feasible ideas to start with.

I got several good ideas, quite good, I think, and so I figured I would start in this morning when I did my early morning writing. But I can't. Or rather I don't want to. And I realized that just like Margaret, my brain isn't ready. I need a little bit of space before I start this new part, before I take on this new persona. So this morning I gave myself a break.