Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Should a writer ever be "in-between" projects?

For those of us who have not been published in our genre, like myself, I always wonder as to whether one should keep working on a project that is out on submission (i.e. the next book in the series), or if one should start something new, OR (God forbid) take a break and not write at all.

Part of me wants to keep working on the current project. The characters are fresh in my mind, their problems seemingly to mount with each day that I'm not at the keyboard.

Another part of me would like to revisit a previous project and maybe improve it.

Still, maybe it's time to think of something new to write.

Or maybe it's time for a writing break?

The issue with the last one is that the break can last much longer that I ever intend. Days, weeks accumulate into months, and that becomes a whole new problem in and of itself.

What do you do when you've typed The End and shipped the manuscript off to your agent - do you keep writing the same series, start something new, or take a break?


VR Barkowski said...

I haven't had the privilege of sending a mss for submission, so I can't answer the question precisely. However, I do write everyday. I would either keep with the series, which is what I did when I put the finishing touches on my first mss, or I'd start something new. I think it's important to write everyday, series, stand alone, short story, journal - something, anything, just to be writing.

Donna Cummings said...

Kris, this is a great topic. I like to take a little break after I'm done sending something off, usually because I'm physically wiped out after doing revisions.

But after a couple days of recharging I find myself getting a little twitchy. So I need to work on something! If I've just finished revisions, I usually work on drafting a WIP, because I need the freedom of just pantsing my way through something. :) Maybe later I'll try to do some revisions on something else.

Clarissa Southwick said...

The longer I write, the more I appreciate the value of "down" time.

I usually plan a week between projects where I catch up on all those little chores that usually intrude on my writing. After all that housework, getting back to writing feels like a vacation.

The important thing is not to think of it as being "blocked". You're preparing your environment so when you do start writing, you're fresh and ready to go.


Taryn Browning said...

Kris - I have really enjoyed reading the responses. Super topic!

I feel that I am always "working" on something, whether it is improving/revising a manuscript, continuing a series, or writing a new story. For me, writing is my escape. I'm not a mother or a wife, I'm just me, doing what I love. I found that I was getting caught up in all of my "labels" and forgetting to do what makes "me" happy. So, long story short, I try to write everyday, even if it is only a few pages. Find your passion--and do it!!!

As Ella Fitzgerald said, "Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong."

Unknown said...

Thanks for all your comments! I love to read what people think about this topic.

Viva~ Your day will come when you ship off the ms to CW and then you'll be thinking my same thoughts! Still, I do believe that writing everyday is a great thing. Now, if everyone would just consider 30-hour days, then I'd have no problem writing every day!

Donna~ I can take off longer than a week - sometimes up to a month, but I get twitchy too. Nice to know it's not just me! I'm a pantser by nature, but this latest series is forcing me to plot it out by chapters. It's good and bad.

Clarissa~ Downtime is wonderful, but sometimes it gets to be too long for me. But I have to admit that if I'm not writing, I'm certainly "thinking" about the next project. I do a lot of that, then when I sit down, the words seem to flow right out. I must be an odd writer because I rarely get blocked.

Taryn~ I love that quote! I truly love writing, and I wish I could spend all day, every day pursuing all of those crazy stories floating around in my head. Unfortunately for me, I can't. I work, have two kids, a husband, a dog, and a house that never seems clean! Some day, I'm going to spend the majority of my time writing. It's just not right now.

Taryn Browning said...

Kris - I know what you mean. Between my children's schools, sports practices, games, and work, I find it hard to just do something for me. I have to make a conscious effort--but it can be very overwhelming. Having writers to confide in and bounce ideas off of is definitely a HUGE help. This blog is a great way to do that. Thanks!

Liz Lipperman said...

Been here..done this!!

I remember asking CW in Washington last year what she wanted me to edit next. I had FOUR completed manuscripts, one of which was the first in a series. She turned to me and said, "Write something completely different."

As much as I hated to hear that, that's what I did. I wrote a proposal for a RS series. It never sold BTW, but when I got an offer it was on a three chapter cozy proposal I had just written.

So...take a breather and recharge then hit the computer again. That way when you do sell...and I know you'll have lots of stuff ready when they ask, "What else does she have?"

Great post, Kris. Fingers crossed for your manuscript out on submission.

Coreene Smith said...

I always start something new. While my WIP is cooking on the front of my brain, there are always ideas bubbling on the back. I'm usually itching to get onto the next project about three chapters away from writing The End on the current one.

It's not that I don't love my characters, but after spending a bunch of time with them, I like a break. A little vacation where I sun myself with something new. After I'm well into my new WIP (about a month later), I go back to the previous project with new eyes and a bag full of objectivity (I hope! C-:) and hammer it with revisions.

That way I can pick up any big holes or flaws in the story I couldn't see before because I was too close it.

I don't seem to able to do the downtime thing. I love to write and get restless if I'm not working on something.

Unknown said...

Liz~ I'm pretty sure CW would say the same thing to me - actually she did and that's how I started writing MG! It does seem to take me at least some time to figure out a new storyline. I usually don't have a well of ideas pooling around the computer - but then again, if I didn't feel like I was living life at 110 mph every day, maybe the ideas would be there! But I do get antsy when I'm not writing. And a bit bitchy. Just ask my husband. :)

Coreene~ I feel the same way when I'm so close to the end. I just want it to be over - and not in a bad way. It's like my hands can't type fast enough because I'm already thinking about the next book. But when I finally do finish, well, I admit that I have to take a step back, regroup, and then start again.

We all have our ways of working/writing, and it seems that we all agree that writing on a consistent basis is what makes us happy! Thanks for chiming in, ladies!

Marilyn Sue Shank said...

I'm moving ahead on the sequel to the book that has been accepted by Random House (Delacorte). Can't stop it. Christine said maybe I should wait until we see how the first book does. I told her it was like telling a woman in labor to stop giving birth. For the last month or so, I'm being flooded with characters and scenes--gotta get them on paper!

Unknown said...

Marilyn~ I completely understand. I want to work on the second in my series, but we haven't received an offer - yet!