The Not-So-Dry Spell

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I haven’t worked on a novel in almost a year. This was a pretty shocking revelation to me as a writer, but one I’m glad I realized. Novel writers are an interesting breed in that they believe every waking moment should be devoted to doing something on one work in progress or another. I lived this belief for five years as I cranked out not one, but two novels.

When the last line is written and the last page has been revised for the fourth time. The novel is done, leaving nothing else but the “what now,” moment. Suddenly, the novel writer has minimally eight extra hours a day that is not filled with word count goals or a blinking cursor. Some writers immediately start on a new project to keep the mojo going, but others revel in the down time. I’d always been the former, a literal Energizer Bunny that never, ever stopped. That is until, I had a little epiphany.

After completing my first novel, I jumped right into brainstorming ideas for the next one. I was on a roll and I didn’t want to break the cycle. However, after completing my second novel, I found I was a little reluctant to start the process of writing a third novel. At first, I was a little worried that my muse had finally run out of juice, but then I realized I was desperately in need of a break. I loved my characters and the worlds I created for them, but I found I was missing the real people in my life and the real world. It was time to look away from the screen and jump back into the world that had inspired me in the first place.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss working on my novels. I do. A copy of The Muse is on my Kindle and on my computer desktop.  A partial outline for The Muse: Lineage sits on my writing desk, while a stack of CDs is waiting for me to peruse them for songs to go on a playlist for Lineage. Despite a long hiatus from butt on chair, fingers on keyboard work, my novels are never far from my mind. Still, I think my characters understand that I needed a little space to gather my thoughts and consider my next steps.

Some would call this a dry spell, but I call it a writer’s reboot. My time away from novel writing hasn’t been wasted by any means. Between agent hunting, experimenting with poetic forms, free writes and rediscovering my love of writing short stories, it’s been a productive chunk of time. The initial feeling of guilt for not constantly working on a novel has all but disappeared and I am enjoying the freedom of being able to truly follow my muse.

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c.b.w. 2014

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15 thoughts on “The Not-So-Dry Spell

  1. Much though as I am also one of those writers who feels like I should ALWAYS be doing something, I definitely agree with the necessity of downtime. Just as we need a vacation from any sort of job, we need time off from writing to recharge and recover from our last project. Unfortunately I tend to take those vacations in awkward chunks in the middle of trying to get things done. >.>

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  2. That time away (even though there’s still plenty of writing happening in the meantime) seems to be a healthy part of being a novelist. Just as I like to return to a familiar book after a stint of reading new ones, a break from the world you’ve created feels good. (Never a complete break, of course, like you mentioned, because those characters are always there with you.) When you come back, it’s always with fresh perspective and new motivation. : )

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  3. It’s good to take a break with all sorts of things in our lives. I find variety, and sometimes just a little space to pause and think, can actually cause creativity to refuel. I’ve been writing a novel, but I’ve recently got sidetracked with completing some short stories I should have done a while back. I felt bad about diverting from the novel for a while, but now I’m wondering if something in my brain said “we need to do something else”. I know I have a real dislike for repetitive anything, I know I have a real dislike for repetitive anything, so it’s probably that programme running in the background and taking over for a while. 😉 I hope you get back to the books eventually, with a fresh mind and lots of ideas! 🙂

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    • I’m definitely dabbling in a bunch of different styles and forms. The experimentation has been really fun and interesting. Hopefully, it will lead to new creative epiphanies when I sit down to write my next novel. 🙂

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