Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Running Low

My brain feels like saltwater taffy right now.

I wish I could say it's because I've been really productive, like I just finished beta reading for Joe, editing my own book, and wrote another, but alas that's not the case. I have started beta reading, but I haven't even looked at my own work. In all fairness, I need about another week or so before I can realistically start editing. 

In the meantime, my brain has no story to think about. I've have the occasional idea come and go, but I can't really get pumped up over an idea until I have a plot to work on too. So the ideas start to loose a bit of their luster. But I really need this break. I didn't realize while I was writing my last book I was running on empty, much like that Jackson Browne song "Running on Empty". (P.S. I really like Jackson Browne. I love the sound of his voice. You might also like "Doctor My Eyes" by him as well. Why yes, my parents raised me on classic rock. Why do you ask?)

But after a few days of goofing off, getting the boring housework type stuff done, and reading, I realized I felt much better than I have in awhile (sinus infection notwithstanding). More clear headed, and far less panicky. I've spent far less time on the Internet reading blogs, and more time reading and spending time with my friends and family.

You know how writers talk about reconnecting with life after a book? I've come to realize that is a vital part of the writing process, at least for me. I wouldn't change anything that happened last year (like getting married) but it took it's toll on me.

Part of the problem was my own doing. I felt like I had to start querying by February. I figured I would finish writing the book in December, give it a few weeks to settle, edit, give it to betas, implement changes, and then I was off to the querying races.

Ummmm yeah. Best laid plans of mice and men, right? The problem was even when I knew I wouldn't be ready by February I still felt like a big fat failure. I still felt like I was behind. This is not a good feeling to try and write a book to. Stepping back from the Internet and the rest of the writing world for a while has helped me let go of some of that self imposed anxiety. It's good to have deadlines of course, but you also have to know how to adjust things accordingly. 

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Back to not having a story, my brain is rebelling. I am having these weird, crazy dreams about ice cream and wedding videos. I have trained myself to be creative every day since I was a teenager, and whenever I don't have a project I am actively working on, my brain gets a little crazy with itself. Sometimes I distract it with chocolate but that only works for so long.

But that's okay. It's a small price to pay to recharge my batteries. You just can't expect yourself to constantly put out quality creative material without taking some creativity in. I think in the future I am going to schedule down time more frequently, so I can keep up a steady pace. 

In the meantime, I get to decide what book I am going to work on next. I will probably finish my previous WIP, although I am considering changing the POV from first to third, and adding a POV to bring the book closer to what I had originally envisioned it to be. 

So what do you do to recharge your batteries? How do you prevent yourself from burning out?


  1. Before I got my nook, I'd write until my batteries ran out then I'd read for three weeks. Just devour books until I felt the pull to write again. That's changed because now I read on the subway every day. Still, there are days where I just don't have a story in me and I read on the train as well.

    Right now, I'm beta reading for one person and editing two different mss of my own. It's really sucked all my creativity. I do not have an impulse to work on anything new. It'll be the middle of March at the earliest before I start on original works again, I think.

  2. Well yeah. With the work you've done on JH and WANTED and beta reading I am surprised you have any energy left at all. I am going to try in the future to not do too much for too long. It's really drained me, and I can feel myself coming back to normal. I also think I will spend more balanced time between reading and writing.

  3. Good for you for realizing you needed a break. I think I've done the same, but not from choice. My brain just went on strike. :)

    I need to make some important changes to chapter one and then start querying again too, but I'm waiting until my muse comes back from vacation. whenever that might be.

    It's nice to be with friends and family though isn't it? I mean really with them, not sitting close by while your mind is in another world somewhere. Enjoy it!

  4. Charity: Yikes! I guess that's your brain's way of forcing you to take a break. Lucky for me it's not on strike, just wondering what the heck it's supposed to be thinking about. :D

    And yes, it is nice to be totally present with the people I am with.