Monday, August 27, 2012

Taking a Break, Sort of

Experienced authors often advise writers to put aside a finished draft of their novel, short story, or article for at least a week, or longer. It’s good advice. There’s nothing better than tackling rewrites and edits with a fresh pair of eyes. The pros suggest working on new manuscripts during this time to thwart the temptation to make changes before we should. Also good advice. The authors write less, however, about the importance of taking a break, or at least cutting down, from writing altogether for a period of time. This week, I did exactly that when I left town on vacation, refusing to take any of the Casey Holland mysteries I’ve been working on every day for ages. It was one of the best things I did for myself this year.

When our kids were young and I was working day jobs, vacations were much-needed writing times. Like the kids, I couldn’t wait to reach our destination. While they played, I sat nearby and pulled out my notebook. It was sweet productive bliss, if only for an hour or two each day.

Now that our children are grown up, taking their own vacations, and writing has become my day job, holidays are different. I realized that I needed a break from my three-to-four hour daily writing schedule (and two hours of promotion) to unwind and not think about the Casey series. My mind relaxed, ideas for something new sprang up, and then more ideas came. But I spent no more than an hour each day developing plots and characters. It was so much fun it felt like play rather than work.

Here at home again, I’m refreshed, rejuvenated, and eager to return to Casey and finish a difficult draft of the fifth novel. I gained a lot of inspiration from the 3,000 Iron Man competitors we recently saw in Penticton, BC. These people somehow incorporate grueling training regimes in the water, on bicycles, and completing marathon runs with their families and working lives. Through commitment, dedication, and passion, participants accomplished their mission. I’m sure many of them are now enjoying a well-deserved break from what they love to do. We all need it now and then.


Marian Allen said...

Funny how whether we're working or playing depends on what we do most. :)

I know writers who have books they keep as "vacations" from their "serious" writing. I used to have one, but I finished and sold it, doggone it! lol

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your comments, Marian. Yes, I think I'm heading toward the writer who has books for "vacations", thus the humor mystery about the security work I started. Although vacation's over, I still work on it a little bit most afternoons, but always after putting in time on my Casey Holland mysteries. Maybe it's time for you to start on another "vacation" mystery. Of course, to do that you would need a vacation!