What is it like as an author of fiction to come back after a substantial break from novel-writing?
With the release of “Writing for You” behind me, I’m back on the fiction bandwagon. It has been months since I’ve worked on my fiction. I can’t believe that. This is the first long break I’ve taken from my novels in years, and it happened for a few reasons.
- I was trying to get my writer’s handbook together for the date I’d set (check!)
- I was stuck on how to fix a WIP of which I have a troubled first draft, and wanted to think the issues through before I started editing (I wrote about the beauty of breakthroughs a couple of weeks ago when mine came).
- I’m still job-hunting hard, which is time-consuming.
Coming back has been quite the experience! I thought I’d share some thoughts of the joys and difficulties of returning to a WIP after an extended break.
- IN SOME WAYS IT’S LIKE REUNITING WITH OLD FRIENDS. It’s like I never left the characters or their world. I know my way around Herezoth pretty well by now, so in a sense I do feel right at home again. But still….
- I FEEL A BIT UNSURE OF MY FOOTING, SO I PLAN TO START OFF SLOW AND PICK UP STEAM AS I GO. I wrote only one scene–a new introductory scene–yesterday, and I’m expanding it today. I’m really intrigued at how influential a character the Princess Melinda is becoming. When I started outlining this novel for NaNoWriMo it was all about a commoner sorcerer named Zate! (Zate’s still there, of course. But he’s sharing the spotlight, and I think my edits are going to decrease his percentage of it.)
- GETTING BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS WILL TAKE A WHILE, AND THAT’S OKAY. I’d rather take my time with the edit and do it right rather than make mistakes rushing it before I fully have my bearings again. I need rest and relaxation, and I need my fiction to be part of that, so I’m not setting myself any kind of timeline right now. The edit will be done when it’s done.
- IT FEELS PARTLY LIKE RETURNING TO MY TRUE SELF. As much fun as I had putting “Writing for You” together, I’m not sure abandoning my fiction while I did so was the right choice, because I feel very free now…. I feel as though everything has readjusted so that my life is “right” again, if that makes sense. Now I know that, if and when I write a followup to “Writing for You” or pursue another nonfiction project, I shouldn’t abandon my novelist roots. Hey, you live and you learn 🙂
- MY MOOD IS TONS BETTER THAN IT WAS. One further hint that when you’re meant to be a novelist, writing fiction really does function as therapy and is key to mental health 🙂 I’m a person of faith, and for some reason, my fiction is one of the major ways I connect my faith to the real world, test it, and make sure it continues to develop. I have been stressing lately, but returning to fiction is somehow easing all that. Awesomeness!
- I COULD DO ANOTHER READ-THROUGH, BUT I THINK I’LL DO AN EDIT FIRST AND THEN READ-THROUGH AGAIN. If I didn’t have hundreds of notes from my last read-through and my breakthrough about some fundamental changes I need to make to the draft, I’d probably read it again. But I think I want to jump in instead, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll go on my gut and on my notes and then read through the results when I’m finished 🙂
Have you ever taken a long break from fiction? How did you come back to it? How do you think you’d approach returning, if life intervened and took you away from your fiction for a while?
This is something you don’t hear many people discuss. You hear “write every day” a lot (I’ve said it myself!), but you don’t hear, “This is how you come back when you haven’t written for weeks or months.”
Please feel free to share your thoughts if you’re so inclined. Also, if you enjoyed this post and would like to follow my blog, you can sign up at the top right to follow by email.