Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stepping back or Giving up

We all have those days where the writing isn't working. We second guess ourselves, we eat one too many brownies and then re-evaluate.

Some give up, others step back.

We don't realize the damage we do to ourselves when we don't step back to get a clear head.

"finish this chapter then you can rest" you tell yourself but your body knows your lying. It knows the minute you finish the first chapter you'll move to the second because you feel pushing isn't wrong.

Sometimes you need to step back.

That doesn't mean people think you're giving up. I, personally, commend those who take blogging hiatuses, I'm sad I can't let go some weeks. The passion is what keeps me. I have a love for blogging and though I can't comment at times, I'm making compromises, which is what's needed in this business.

When it comes to writing I must take breaks. Some say you should write every day, I say I'll be the judge of that. Sometimes forcing a word count is worse than taking a day off. Sometimes taking a step back, breathing and relaxing is just what's needed, and you know what... you're allowed.

Do you associate a day off with giving up? How do you cope with writing frustrations?

44 comments:

Leigh Ann said...

My frustrations actually revolve more around the querying/agenting aspect than anything. I sent my MS out into the querying ether, and immediately did my best to detach. I opened another file and started another project.

I feel a little like I'm giving up on it, since I'm not obsessing over it day by day, but I know it's healthy to move on no matter how much I love the characters.

But a day off from writing? Somehow I still can't stomach that. At all.

Awesome post. :)

Christina Lee said...

Good advice, Jen! I take weekends off (family stuff) and I blog less now--all of that recharges my batteries.

Trisha Leaver said...

First off, Awesome post! I agree with you, it is critical to take step back from our writing occasionally. A fresh set of eyes and a clear head can do wonders for a manuscript you are struggling with.

IMO, writers tend to pour every emotion they have into their characters - fear, pain, happiness, guilt, etc. That can be physically and mentally draining. We need to recharge, not only for ourselves but for the sake of our WIP

As for not writing every day . . . can't do that. Sometimes it is only a sentence or two and it is a struggle to get it out, but I do.

Diana Mieczan said...

I totally agree, sometimes its really important to take a day or two off to just refocus and clear your head. Love this post, darling
Muah

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post Jen! I think everyone needs to unplug or take a day off now and again. If for no other reason than to come back to their MS with fresher eyes and to give your mind a chance to just. . . calm.

Joy said...

Wow! Great post! I take days off when I need to, usually a few per week. Sometimes a break is exactly what you need to invigorate your writing. I know a ton of people believe in writing everyday, and some weeks that works for me, but there are also times when stepping back for a moment renders more creativity. :)

Laura Pauling said...

There are so many other things to do beside writing when we need to take a step back. Experiencing life, refueling, reading, critiquing, social media, research or eating choc. chip cookies. Lots of choices. Now if the break goes on for months...

Liz Fichera said...

No way. Stepping back is not giving up. It's recharging your batteries. Besides, it's a time to collect new ideas, perceptions, adventures, etc. It's hard to write about life if you never experience it. I say, enjoy your day off! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

We all absolutely have to step back once in awhile. Sometimes from life, sometimes from blogging, sometimes from writing. We need to refresh the coffers, as it were.

When I need to step back from my writing I generally clean the house or work in the yard. The mundaneness of the tasks generally allow me to work out whatever's bugging me in the manuscript.

Don't ever feel like you're giving up when you need a break. Hey, God even rested on the 7th day.

Christine Danek said...

This is great advice. I know I get caught up in wanting to finish to get it done and out. I have to realize that stepping back and letting it stew may be better than staring at a screen freaking out.
I have limited my blogging and other distractions. I agree with Anne. Housework and yardwork clear my head. Also, a day at the beach can do wonders.

Christine Fonseca said...

Great post! And I totally agree...I know there I times when I have to step back to clear my head.

Em-Musing said...

When I step back...my writing always calls me back..or should I say my muse calls me back. I depend on my muse. She never disappoints. But that's the writing part. I wish I had a muse for the business/marketing part. That's what I always pull away from.

J. A. Bennett said...

Yes, yes, yes! I feel all these same things, and you know what readers can tell when things are forced we all need breathers!

mshatch said...

I try to write everyday but only because I want to and if I end up doing something else I do not feel guilty for not writing. We all need a day off from our work and however much I love writing and wish it were my one and only job it is still work and sometimes I just need a break.

Becky Mahoney said...

Great discussion going on here! I definitely agree that days off are a necessity. Sometimes you just need to recharge and take in the world around you before you can get back to your WIP.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I don't associate a break with giving up at all. I feel like breaks are essential. I tried for months to write at least a little every day, but for me it's something I can't force. There are some days where I will not write and I'm okay with that.

Matthew MacNish said...

I go days without writing all the time, but not blogging. I don't know why, but for some reason I feel like a failure for not blogging, which is really dumb.

Carolyn V said...

I don't think taking a break is a bad thing. I always feel more excited to head back to writing when I do. And as for blogging, I find I need it sometimes when other things become more a priority. Breathers are good. ;)

Creepy Query Girl said...

I'm staring at a manuscript who's MC needs a personality over-haul and I'm feeling completely frusterated and put out. But I know myself pretty well. I'll let it sink in for a few days, mull over possible ways to achieve it and start revisions. Taking a step back is totally key.

Meredith said...

I'm a big believer in taking time off. Forcing myself to write usually results in horrible writing, and I'd rather take a break and come back refreshed.

serena page turner said...

i tend to give up for a short time but i do keep going back. it shows in how i blog disapear for months then back with vengence then statr the cycle again.

McKenzie McCann said...

I write when I feel like it and don't force myself. I know from enough school assignments, forced writing is bad writing. There are days when I notice it's been oh, say, A WEEK since writing anything new, and then I might sit down and just puke up something terrible.

McKenzie McCann said...

I write when I feel like it and don't force myself. I know from enough school assignments, forced writing is bad writing. There are days when I notice it's been oh, say, A WEEK since writing anything new, and then I might sit down and just puke up something terrible.

Jessica Bell said...

Oh gosh, I could NEVER write every day. That rule is bollocks. Doesn't work for some people. Good luck to those it does work for :o)

Myne Whitman said...

I think it is important for each person to find out what works for them. But I agree that sometimes, it's best to step back and evaluate or re-evaluate.

E.R. King said...

This is very true. I have learned that when I do step away from my story, I can see it with clearer eyes. It's like looking at a painting: if you're too close you can appreciate the brush strokes, but you can't see the whole picture. If you step away and give yourself time to ponder, you will appreciate it in its entirety.
BTW, I mentioned you in my recent post. Just so you know, you're kind of a big deal. : )

Gina said...

Since I'm basically getting no love from querying, I'm feeling like quite the failure. But I'm determined to exhaust all my avenues for this ms that I've worked so hard on, and that's been enjoyed by the people who've read it so far. But, like Leigh Ann, I'm working on something else in case it doesn't pan out (WAAAHHH!)

Talli Roland said...

I try to take Sundays off from all online interaction and writing. I need the head space to breathe, but it's in no way giving up!

Emily White said...

I don't think I feel like a failure if I miss one day. If I go several days without working, however...

But you're right. :) Sometimes taking a break can be the best thing for your work.

Sarah Pearson said...

Learning the difference between stepping back and giving up is another lesson in this thing we call writing.

Sounds like you got this one nailed :-)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Having days off every once and awhile is imperative, I think, to enjoying the process of writing. And enjoying the process of writing is imperative to not giving up. :) At least for me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's not giving up. A break is good. (Unless you take too many days off during NaNo, and then you're just screwed.) Besides, writing blog posts and comments is still writing, right?

Julianna said...

I take breaks! Chances are whatever you write when you are feeling over-baked will be edited out anyway! I think we all know when the pushing is healthy, and when it is harmful. 'To thine own self be true'. :) Good luck!

Stephanie said...

Very true. I go through periods where I just have no motivation...like now. Summer vacation is winding down...I know in a week things will be calmer and I will be able to focus better. I hate that I am being unproductive but I know I will get back on my horse.

Ashley Sloan from Sloanbook said...

It'd be nice if I could take a vacation from blogging but maybe someday lol. Well I have and I have guest posters so that is nice! If I am frustrated I just don't post or blog and try not to worry! It is my journal but also for others so it is difficult lol.

Ashley

DL Hammons said...

Taking a break, a very long break, can be just what the doctor ordered! :)

Samantha said...

Everyone needs a day. My mom always called it a mental health day and they were much needed when they came around. Just found your blog it's great.

Kathryn Elliott said...

Breaks are not just good, they are needed!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

My problem is if I take time off, I lose momentum. Every time I stop after writing a novel, I flounder. I've got to do something each day. Even if it's just a paragraph!

Karen Strong said...

I think it's a great thing to step back and take a breather. Sometimes you can push yourself too hard.

When things get frustrating to me, I know that I'm trying too hard.

When I step back, I can gain some space and I always come back refreshed and ready to write again.

Great post Jen. :)

Melodie said...

If I get stuck, it's usually because I'm not having fun. So I'm learning to look at where my MS is boring/uninspired. When it's fixed, I'm excited again.

tracikenworth said...

I think we all have those "off" days. I don't worry so much about getting a certain word count and that helps. There's days I write five words and then there's days I write ten pages or more. I don't wait for "inspiration" though, because I know I won't get anything done if I do, but just try and get something down to advance the story.

lynnrush said...

We must step back from things we're doing once in a while, whether it's writing related or not. Our brain needs time to refresh. Recharge.

Mostly I step back and read or do critiques...but I find the best medicine for me when I'm struggling with writing (or anything in general) is to take a long bike ride! :) It clears my mind.

LTM said...

first I brood a lot and misinterpret everyone's actions as meant to hurt me.

Then I get really wiggy and cry at TV commercials. Then I write a blog post about how writing makes me SAD...

and then all my bloggie friends, my hubs, and my agent (!) write, call or fuss about how silly I'm acting.

And I feel silly and laugh and we all comment on what a neurotic person I am.

And then I'm all better again! For a few weeks. LOL!!! :D xoxo