Today, Forley wants to know: What are your views on writing breaks while working on a book? How often do you take them? How long before you start to lose touch with the story?
Hmm, this is a tricky question for me. For as long as I can remember writing, I haven’t taken real breaks in the middle of a manuscript. First, it’s because of the excitement writing gives me. But then, there have been times when I felt burned out, but still kept writing because I also have this fear of forgetting intricate details or disconnecting if I pull back from my WIP. The longest time I take away from a WIP is about a day, or two at most. But I don’t take long breaks.
I don’t think this works for everyone though, so my advice on writing breaks would be to pay attention to your needs. Are you burned out? Then take a pause. If in a day or two, you’re still not feeling geared to write, take longer. Although, be careful not to procrastinate idly, or to let laziness set in. Because I believe the longer we take from our WIPs, the tougher it gets to go back!
— Lucia, The Fantasy Writer!
My mom always joked with me growing up that I have the world’s largest collection of unfinished stories. When I was young, I would hand write everything in spiral bound notebooks. I actually have kept all of those notebooks tucked away in a box in my closet back home. But I usually take a break when I can feel that the story is not connecting. If I am not getting to my end game, I put the story aside and I either go back to it or I sheleve it.
For Take Your Mark (or TYM), I am on indefinate hiatus from it. I need a very long break from it. I thought I could do all of my revisions for the current draft this summer but my brain decided that it would be better for when I am back stateside to see if I want to revisit it. As my writing has developed, I am a fan of taking unscheduled breaks. I have a few stories that I have started but stopped because I know the time is not right. But once it is right again, they will be seen with my eyes again. Then, I will make the decision to either start it again or just move on the other thing.
–Briana, Slice of Life YA
In my experience, when I’m writing a manuscript but it’s simply not working out, I know it’s time to take a break and revisit later. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting it away for some days, get new inspiration, sort out what needs to be fixed and then go back to it. However, I’ve also experienced putting the manuscript away for months and still not being able to figure out what it needs. This doesn’t mean I give up on those stories, because I keep them in my mind hoping to find a way to go back to them when the time is right and inspiration strikes.
For example, I have a story I love, and I’ve been writing several versions of it. However, I don’t feel happy with it yet, I know it’s not coming together as I want it to. So in the last year and half I’ve gone back to it, tweak it, revise it many times; but it’s still not there. Will I let it go? I want to believe I won’t. I value the theme too much and I love my character. I think maybe it’s a matter of getting more experience, more growth and then the time will come for it to flow out of me in a way that feels right, in the way that story needs to be told.
I think the most important thing is to know ourselves as writers (and your needs as Lucia said) and have a clear understanding of what we want from our stories. Then we have to keep writing, even if for a moment we don’t focus on that specific WIP that makes us struggle. If we trust the process and the timing, we’ll eventually be able to make that manuscript shine or, as Brianna suggests, let it go with a peace of mind.
– Mariana, PB Writer
I typically don’t plan writing breaks, I’m forced to take them. My preference is to write a story from start to end without an extended break, because I tend to forget details and start muddling up the voice of the book if I step away from it for too long. Unfortunately because of my plantser style, things don’t always go perfectly and I can be forced into writing breaks when I get writers block and can’t figure out where to take my plot. These breaks can last from month to years, but I find that once it drags past a month or two, I’ll end up having to re-read my entire draft before picking up the drafting again because I’d have forgotten so many things by then! Of course, this only refers to longer breaks. For short 1-2 day breaks, I take those all the time! You’ve got to have a life outside of writing! 🙂
-Amber, YA/NA SFF!
How do YOU plan writing breaks, dear readers?