Vegetarian here, but I couldn’t think of a better metaphor for where I am in the writing process than steak. I watch those cooking shows, and I ate meat until 4 years ago. (I’m also not a militant vegetarian. If you want to eat dead animals, have at it. 😉 You can even eat them in my presence. I worry about me, not you. Plus, this is not a blog about food.)
Anyhoo — here’s the deal — you take the steak off the heat and you LET IT REST. And that’s not a count-to-ten-in-you-own-head-oh-my-god-I’m-so-hungry rest, it’s a full on REST to allow the steak to continue to cook to the perfect temperature. You allow everything to settle, the juices to migrate through the steak.
To be ready, it needs time without you messing with it.
When writers friends have mentioned taking the summer off, I fainted onto my fainting couch. Granted, it wasn’t anyone under deadline, or contract, but still. I didn’t realize time off was an option. Plus, writing is pretty much my favorite thing to do. Why would I want time off?
To let it rest.
On Monday I sent off sixty pages of The Last Bathing Beauty to my agent, as we gear up to submit to my St. Martin’s Press editor. Not only am I pleased with the changes in the story and POV, but I am ready for a bit of a break from that particular story. That’s the thing for me, I am always writing something but I’m not always writing the same thing.
I am not an every day writer. Pick up your chin from the floor. It just doesn’t work for me. I may work on my novel for ten hours one day not again for three days. I may work on it every other day, especially if I’m busy with freelance projects. I’m a binge writer, which for me means I need to dedicate a big block of time and I don’t hop between writing and freelancing too easily, so I usually set the tasks for different days.
In that sense, I guess I am often finding time to let my words rest.
I find that writing can be exhausting. I’m sure that’s true of any kind of novel-writing, but the effort that comes with nuanced and layered women’s fiction sweeps me away from the passage of time. Hours pass without my knowledge, as if someone has come and spun the hands of my kitchen clock. I couldn’t keep that up on a daily basis. Sure, sometimes under deadline I’m pushing all my limits, but that’s in the editing framework. Writing is different for me. I need to step away from it. Plus, if I’m being honest, some of my best ideas about story come when I’m not writing, usually in places where I can’t write them down like the shower or the car.
So, back to letting it rest. If you’re taking a vacation, or setting a WIP aside for the summer, consider this. You’re still working. It’s part of the process. If it’s a story that’s compelling enough to write, you’re not going to forget about it. You’ll return to it with fresh eyes and fresh ideas.
Have a great summer, friends! I’ll be right here (writing about Boop) if you need me!
PS There is no Summer Writing Tip #2. 🙂
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