The Silver Lining | Taking Writing Breaks

Yesterday I posed the question about whether or not you take a writing break after finishing a draft. I love reading the responses (so far!) and all the different approaches.

I seriously don’t think I could manage taking a self-imposed writing break (i.e. one that isn’t forced by day job deadline craziness or vacation. Hey, even on my vacation to Scotland I outlined a new book and wrote at least 2k a day in my other WIP).

I always feel like I’m wasting time if I take a break. My breaks are from manuscripts, not writing, I guess! Even if I’m not near my computer, I try to be productive and think about the stories. That’s why I write so fast, because I mull over the scenes all day long so when I finally sit down to write, I just have to transcribe what already happened in my head.

But that also leads to problems. Do you ever plan out a conversation with someone in your head and then forget to actually have it? Like, today my critique partner asked me if I had a title for super secret WIP yet, and I thought, "Yeah, I told you about it last week!" And then I realized, no, I wanted to tell her about it but never actually drafted the email someplace other than my head. That’s sort of how I feel about my revision.

For the last month, I’ve been mulling over (and outlining) the changes for my revision of super secret wip. New character personalities. New subplots. Today when I sat down to read the first draft, I got totally confused. Because my characters still had their old personalities. The changes are so obvious to me, I can’t believe this draft still exists with the old stuff. I felt like they should have been implemented already! One of my secondary characters had henna tattoos on her hands, and I thought, that’s not right, you’re a science geek now. Anyway, I’m in for a rough few days while I sort out the old stuff and figure out what I can keep. I think most scenes will need a complete rewrite, but there are a few I can save. But hey, I’m not complaining. Making those mistakes during the first draft will lead to a much stronger second draft.

See, even while on a break from this manuscript, I was still working on it, though not on paper. Has this type of thing ever happened to anyone? Where you sat down to start a revision and couldn’t even wrap your head around the old version because it’s so different from where it will end up?

Tomorrow I’m going to post about my revision process and how I’m tackling this one. I’ve been really busy at work this week, so blogging might be later in the day for the next few days.

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5 Responses

  1. Heh, not exactly the same, but kind of similar–I’m working on a rewrite of a book where I’ve made a significant change very early in the story, which of course has affected how I handle everything thereon. So I keep coming to scenes in the old draft where I’m thinking, wait, didn’t I already cover this? Why is this here? Oh, yeah, because this is the old draft without all the changes. Duh.

    It sure would be nice if drafts updated themselves to fit the changes we already knew we were going to make!

    • Yeah, I definitely do that too. Or I’ll make a change as I’m writing and forget that I haven’t updated the beginning yet to reflect it. Self-updating drafts would definitely be nice! I’ll put that on my wish list, along with the teleportation machine.

  2. It’s funny how much evolution happens in the revision process. Actually, even just from the first page to the last, a lot changes about the characters, the voice, the setting, the plot. I’m always writing…in my head. But for me, I like to move on to another ms, if I can, and work a while before I go back and revise #1. I just need a little space to let it all gel and then go at it with fresh eyes that can see the holes a little better.

    good luck!

    • I try to work on another manuscript too, just to clear my head. I think distance always leads to sharper vision when pinpointing problems.

      And yes, so much changes from page 1 to the end, even in the first draft.

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