Yesterday was a post about what motivates me and how a continue on through a novel project from inception to its end. Today, however, I am expanding a little part of the conversation towards the end when I spoke about taking breaks.
As I said yesterday, writing a novel is like running a marathon. So it is important that the writer pace themselves and not over due it. For me this comes in the form of taking breaks. I take frequent breaks throughout the novel depending on the situation. Each project is different and so I take breaks accordingly.
For example, a novel where I know most of what’s happening, when it will and should happen will warrant less breaks during the writing. This is because knowing a novel that intimately means that I have momentum and that’s something I don’t want to lose. So in this case I’ll usually write a chapter a day, sometimes pushing through it when I know I should take a break during writing the chapter. In most cases, however, I’ll take a half chapter break then come back to it and finish out the chapter. Again, keeping momentum without over doing it is key.
If I don’t know the story as well and the future scenes are a mystery or perhaps they need some construction work, then I’ll take more frequent breaks. This is to help me form the story more, work out the setting and aid in world building (especially when building one from scratch). In this situation the story and some of its elements aren’t as organic as I would like it to be. So breaking and brainstorming becomes the tightrope in this situation.
What do I do in these moments when it’s break time?
I do a number of things. I’ll focus on other writing projects most of the time. If I’m taking a break from all writing projects, then I listen to music or read. I’ll watch tv, play videogames and/ or watch old movies (which I love. I especially love Turner Classic Movies). Or I’ll simply just relax, maybe shoot pool, bike ride or something like that. A lot of the times when taking these breaks, inspiration comes and it’s back off to the races. Sometimes not, and a break is just that, a break.
Break time is different for each writer/author and so is what they do during those down times. At any rate, the goal is the same: to not only restore the creative juices but also to refresh the creative flow. This gives a new and fresh perspective to the author so much so it’s like receiving a new pair of eyes. You see clearer than before.
So breaking is important in my opinion. Sometimes it can feel like a set back cause it’s like you get a good pace going then you hit a block. This is usually where frustration kicks in. Writer’s block can happen before, during or even towards the end of the project. To have that momentum only to slow down or completely stop? Yes, it can be frustrating. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. It’s just break time. Use it wisely 🙂
Another thing I do is write at certain times in the day. I’m a morning person, so I’ll usually write in the early afternoon (after going through my morning routine of getting ready. Yes, I get dressed and everything). It’s more comfortable for me to write in clothes-clothes instead of PJs. This is different for each person too. Now, when I was writing in college I couldn’t do that. I had to write at night or into the wee hours of the morning because I had classes during the day. On top of that I could only write on nights when I didn’t have class the next day.
Now, if I’m really urging to write, then I’ll pull a late-night if I don’t work the next day. This happens especially if I have my laptop already set up and the next scene is revving to go. So my writing schedule vacillates a little more than it has in the past but I try to keep it consistent as much as I can. It’s not something I worry about though and neither is writer’s block. I just use it as a break and occupy my time with something else until I meet that project again.