Monday, March 5, 2012

Take a Break, Grow as a Writer

Do I really have to go?

I find myself saying this a lot. To work, the grocery store (which I can entirely understand), but even things like birthday parties and spending time with friends. Not that I don't enjoy being with the people I love, but if it were up to me, I'd be writing non-stop, with perhaps only short breaks for sleep.

When I first started writing, I had no balance. I spent every waking moment in my self-created world, putting everything else in my life on the backburner so I could finish. Oh, how naïve I was!

Over the years, I’ve realized there is no “finishing”. Yes, a first draft can be finished, a rigorous round of edits, even a polished manuscript, but for me the obsession is in the process of writing, not the final product. No doubt, the piece I hold at the end provides incentive to wake at ridiculous hours in the night, sit so long my bones start to ache…

Good writing comes from a soul that is well-rounded. And a soul who sits in her “cave”—whatever room in the house or corner in a coffee shop that happens to be—for hours on end is lacking something.


And I know what you’re thinking. I am experienced. I know what the sun feels like, a roaring crowd sounds like, I could totally write about _______ (fill in the blank).

But have you experienced these as a writer? For me I hadn’t. I had a bank of ideas—a small one—which I drew from when writing. But after a while, my writing started to feel stagnant. Repetitive. Blah.

And then it occurred to me: My writing can’t expand and grow unless I do as a person.  

Reading about a barren land is one thing, but getting in your Jeep with a bunch of friends and GOING THERE is another.

Yes, I really did this over the weekend.
Gazing at a picture of a desert in a book won’t give you that shaky-knees feeling as standing on the top of a cliff and looking down on it for yourself.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that taking a break and living life might set you back on your manuscript for a bit. It’s stressful (believe me, I know) because there’s SO MUCH TO DO. But you won’t regret it. Your end product will be more authentic, more genuine, more real.

And who knows….maybe inspiration will find you along the way too.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Nicole. I think a lot of writers fall into this "must-finish" hole. It's easy to get sucked in.