One of the things I’ve found to be true for me is that every now and then I need a break. From life, sure, but especially from writing. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE writing. And not just the putting down of words on, well, not paper so much, but just putting them down. I also like the whole other side of writing. The long sessions just thinking. Thinking about the world, the politics, the social structures, the people and their society. And planning interesting things to happen. Which people will meet and where and when. Who hates whom and why. Who loves whom, secretly or not, etc, etc. Sometimes these things just intrude on me with no invitation. Thoughts will just pop into my head about someone or something. The stories really do take some measure of control over themselves, as odd a concept as that is to imagine. All that being said, however, sometimes I can get a little too intent on the various aspects of writing, can get a little too focused. When I stop seeing the forest, the over-arching story, and focus too much on the minutiae, whether it be details in the story or even making sure that everything I am writing is stylistically and grammatically correct the moment I write it, that’s when I know it is time for a break. Or if I start getting too frustrated, that too is an indicator for a break.
For the past nearly four weeks, I’ve been working on a short story that fleshes out one of the characters in my novel, Dragonlinked. Every day I would read and re-read the sections I’d presented to my writing group, reviewing their notes and thinking about which to incorporate and how. The second half of the story was giving me problems. There were a lot of details, background history, that I originally thought had to be in there. I was really getting frustrated trying to figure out ways of keeping as much in as I could. It was difficult and not fun. I eventually had a great idea on how to rework the second half a bit that both improved it and allowed me to keep the most important bits. Afterward, I realized that it was time for a break. I was just too frustrated with writing the short story, though I was happy when I got that part of it to work. I had been so focused on getting the tiny things to work in the story that I started to forget about the over-arching story being told. In this case, how Millinith got to Caer Baronel and what she went through on the way there. So for the last week I’ve been on a bit of a break from writing.
What did I do? Well, last Friday I saw Oblivion. Decent movie; I enjoyed it. I also caught up a little on the magazines that are piling up on my night-stand. Magazines are another way of keeping yourself in touch with various things. In a previous post I talked about getting out there and experiencing different things to keep your mind open and absorbing things to aid you in writing. Magazines are good for that too: Discover, Scientific American, National Geographic, Wired, and even Official XBox Magazine grace the little table next to my bed. Speaking of XBox, I finally finished Dust: An Elysian Tail. A fun little game. I also watched some TV (Game of Thrones is back!). And yesterday and today, I started working on a map of Lethera. A map wasn’t needed for the first book, but I start focusing on things that are happening around the continent in the second book. I really need to nail down, so to speak, where everything is and a map serves that purpose nicely. Plus, I can offer it as a little bonus to readers of the various stories here on the blog when I am finished with it.
And sure enough, the spark, the excitement is back. Now, you may not like movies, or video games, or whatever. But it doesn’t matter what you do. The point is to do something else for a bit. A day, two days, a week, whatever you feel like you need. Getting burned out on something is never a good idea. And so, if you start focusing so much on the trees that you can’t see the forest, well…it’s that time.