I haven’t done any creative writing for two months.
Why? Because other things became the priority: teaching, coaching, writing my exegesis, helping family, and taking on some extra hospo work. [NB: an exegesis is like a mini-thesis and forms part of my overall dissertation].
I record my habits every day in a tracker because collecting data keeps me honest, but I was shocked to discover that eight weeks had passed since I’d worked on the manuscript.
While I was working on the novel, I made the conscious decision to put academic research aside until I was ninety percent happy with the revision.
Once I reached that point, I then put the novel aside so that I could focus on putting my exegesis together.
We’re all capable of focussing on more than one thing at a time, but I couldn’t see how — realistically — I could continue to write every day, plus work on my exegesis, and take care of my responsibilities as a sessional academic and writing coach.
If you’re a frequent watcher of this channel, or a member of my email list, you already know that my regular Thursday uploads have been irregular lately.
I definitely don’t work on everything every day because cognitive task switching drains energy and fractures focus, and I have to work around time constraints and interruptions (just like everyone else!).
At first, I tried to justify this brief abandoning of the manuscript, and writing in general, by saying that the project had shifted into a different season, and while that is correct, the project is not complete and I wasn’t going to finish the latest round of edits unless I made writing a priority again.
With everything on my plate right now, I know I can’t dedicate whole days to writing, and even if I could, such approaches usually lead to creative burn out.
So, instead, I’m taking my own advice and carving out a little time each morning to work on the manuscript.
The stage I’m at right now is applying the structural feedback I’ve received from my mentors for acts one and two, as well as conducting a general line edit to correct typos and sentence structure.
I considered using writing as a reward; something I could do after I’d completed working on my exegesis or teaching materials, but knowing how draining these tasks can be, I chose to start my day with writing. That way, I’m coming to the page as my freshest, bestest self.
For now, I’m only working on the edits for an hour a day, and I got to be honest, that hour goes quickly, and even though part of me wants to shove my schedule aside and keep writing, at least for this week, I’m sticking to my one hour.
Why? Because I do have to complete other work that isn’t nearly as developed as the manuscript and two, because I don’t want to do one big day and then not touch the book again for another week.
But that’s just my process from many years of trial and error.
It’s only been a week, but because I’ve structured my entire life around writing, everything starts to feel wobbely when that centre is removed.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you ever take breaks from writing, either consciously or unconsciously? Do you feel rusty when you return to writing or does it feel natural? Do you miss writing when you aren’t working on a project? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Need help finishing that short story, novel, memoir? No problem. The Follow-Through Formula is a free video training which unpacks the five strategies you can use to go from idea to completed project.
To access, click here to join my email newsletter and you’ll receive a thank you email containing the link to the free video training.
You’ll also receive my weekly newsletter which is sent out every Thursday morning. This is where I share links to my latest blog and YouTube video as well as other inspiring goodies that I only share via email.