Writing Problems – The Stop

Last week I finished the rewrite on my novel, and sent it off to my critique partner to read. Since then, I’ve tried to figure out — what do I do?

Before I started on this rewriting mission, I had plenty of other projects I was working on. Reviews, short stories to write and edit, blog posts. These were things I concentrated on for a short while, a couple of days or maybe a few hours at a time, and I grew accustomed to moving between projects to keep me interested and prevent burning out on one thing.

Then, for over a month, I went back to this story, a story that I spent most of my creative time on for the past few years. I let myself get immersed in just this thing, and aside from some other obligations (some real some self-imposed) I didn’t write anything else.

Now, I’m back to that after time, waiting to hear comments and find out if more massive edits are required before I move onto the next stage again. I could go back to writing those stories, working on those other projects…but coming down from that big thing, I feel like much of my writing energy is temporarily diminished, and it’s hard to get myself back into the habit of jumping between stories and ideas.

So I’m doing little things. My critique partner sent me work of her own, almost as long as what I sent her, so I’m reading that, making comments, concentrating on helping her. And I’m letting myself stew on another novel idea, one that’s been taking shape in my head for a couple of years but still hasn’t formed any fingers or toes. I’m also going over already-written stories, ones I want to edit, fix, and send to friends so I can make a try at publishing them in magazines. Mostly, though, I’m reading, taking in children’s fantasy and adult memoir and emotional graphic novels, filling myself up with other people’s words more than I would when in the middle of my own story, letting my brain just take a break from writing and read, filling myself up so when it’s time to really, really write again, I’ll be ready.


Do you find you need a break between projects, or at least big work? What do you do to build up the motivation to write again?


What I’m Reading: Gunslingers, Androids and Other Borrowed Things

I’ve been a little ADD with my reading recently; I keep starting new books, even when I’ve only made it a couple dozen pages into another one. Part of this comes from the fact that I keep borrowing books from the library, and other people.

The GunslingerMy brother had been trying to get me to read The Gunslinger, the first novel in Steven King’s The Dark Tower series, for a while now, and last time I visited I finally took the book back with me. I had tried to read it before, but I had trouble getting into and wound up setting it back down. I had an easier time of it this go around, but it’s still frustrating how little King lets you know about what’s going on. I’m not sure why the gunslinger is chasing the man, or what the importance of the tower is. I’m near the end, and I still don’t know if I’ll be let in on the secret. Still, that I’m interested enough to keep reading is a sign of how good of a job King did with the gunslinger’s character; despite my frustrations, I’m still more interested in learning about him. I’m just under 50 pages away from the end, so I should finish the book today if I don’t get distracted…

Which I just might. Another book I’m borrowing is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. A co-worker handed it off to me a couple weeks ago, but I’m still only a few chapters in. I’m having my usual issue with science fiction stories where I blank out during some of the more technical descriptions, but I’m enjoying the futuristic world set up here, like how owning a real animal versus an electric one is a sign of higher social status, but it’s also something embarrassing that people just don’t ask about.

Other books I’ve been picking at:

OtomenI finished volumes 2 and 3 of Eyeshield 21, a football manga about a scrawny kid who’s really, really fast. It’s been a great bunch of goofy fun about a kid learning he can be good about something. I’ll probably request the next couple of volumes soon.

I also started Otomen, also from the library. This is a shojo manga bout the toughest guy in school…who loves girl manga, sewing, cooking, and cute things.

I’ve also started Speak, a young adult novel about a girl who has been abandoned by her friends after ratting out a party. She feels she can’t talk about why she did it, even in narration to the reader, so she’s left to suffer alone. It’s making me very anxious.

I’ll probably still work on my unfinished books this week, though I’ll be reading a couple other manga and comics for reviews. What have you been reading?