HERE to read more about this wonderful group and click HERE to be introduced to our fearless leader, Captain Alex.
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... my last post announced that I'd be taking a quasi-social media break and a writing break until September. I've done pretty well with the social media break: I'm only posting on Instagram and it's been refreshing. I did post on FBk today just because of IWSG.
The writing break, however, has been a bit of a flop. I intended to spend my off days dabbling in arts and craft. I intended, on the days I didn't go to work, to refresh my imagination with reading and getting a new perspective through the hands-on arts I love. I thought I'd enjoy more time to pursue some ideas I've been longing to get my fingers into. That was the plan.
"The best laid plans of mice and (wo)man..."
I failed. Miserably. Instead of taking three months away from writing I did just the opposite. For the past month I've written every off day I've had, for several hours at a time. Actually, it's worse than that.
I wrote a novel.
An entire rough draft. During the first month I said I wasn't going to write anything.
Perhaps the whole idea of breaking away from writing tricked my brain into desperation mode and the story just started to spill. I don't really know. But what I learned during the process has been invaluable:
1. If you feel like you need to take a break - even from writing - do it and don't be afraid that you won't have anything to return to.
2. If, even after said break is planned, the story decides it's ready and starts to overflow, let it. For the love of Mike LET IT! Run with it! I sat down three days a week and my fingers were on fire. The words tumbled, jumbled out and I got completely and totally out of the way.
3. When a story is ready to be born, it will let you know. No amount of begging or pleading or trying to outline it will change that. This story has been with me since my actual writing break I took last year. I tried, over the past ten months, to flesh it out to no avail. Then, suddenly, the dam broke and I found myself waist deep in a raging river. I had to write myself out of drowning.
4. GET OUT OF THE WAY and let the STORY TELL ITSELF. In other words, a rough draft is just that: a draft that is rough. Really rough. There are misspellings and plot holes all over the place! I changed some key points and forgot a couple of names along the way and, at first, I felt like I had to go back, dig them out, and make sure things were write. Once upon a time, someone very wise said: Don't get it right, get it written. I now understand just how true that is!
5. When you finally DO finish that draft and you're able to breathe, TAKE A BREAK from your writing and do something - ANYTHING - other than writing for a while.
I'm now actually taking a break from writing. The draft is sitting on my computer, steeping. I don't think about it. I know it's there and when the time comes, it will be there for me to pick and prod and whip into shape. This is a strange, new feeling for me. I've written rough drafts before but this one, I don't know...it's comfortable and I'm comfortable with it. We have a symbiotic relationship. It's taken a lot from me but now it's giving back in terms of space. Next week I plan to begin my first round of edits. That's the fun part, isn't it?
I hope you're having a wonderful summer so far and that you all had a fantastic Independence Day! I'm going to try and visit a few blogs today but otherwise, I'm still officially "offline" until the IWSG in August. Hopefully, I'll have some more good news in terms of this tale and have learned some more lessons along the way. Well, of that last part I'm sure!!
This month is pretty special to me. It's my birth month and I turn, *GASP* 40 this year!! I'm excited about it. Each new decade has been better for me than the last and I expect 40 to be no different. Bring on a new decade!! I'm ready for it!
See y'all in August!