Posted: February 17, 2010 in Uncategorized, Wednesday's Writing Tip
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I just finished the draft of a novel. It’s a new novel not in my series.

I still have to work on it. Part of that work is letting it sit without me looking at it.

Stephen King says to put it away for month, at least. Don’t peak, don’t tinker, don’t fix that one part.

Right now, I feel lazy.

I also feel burned out on the story and I am dying for it to be done.

Done, done. Really done.

I’ve been a boxer and martial artist for thirty years. When you train to fight you learn how to do interval training. That’s going really hard for a short time to get your heart rate up  and then resting.

After you recover you repeat it. It’s exhausting but it conditions you for fighting.

I wonder if writing needs the same exercise. Is it just my laziness that tells me to break? Could I condition myself to writing for longer periods of time with fewer breaks? Would the writing suffer? Is burnout just a cop out?

Something tells me I need intervals. I’m just not sure about the work/rest ratio.

  1. Just A Girl says:

    makes sense – gives time for your mental cheerleader to settle down.

    When your working on something – you get going and your mental cheer leader starts going “rah rah your so good this is great YEAH” if you give her time to settle down you can see any jumps in logics or missing spots better…she tends to get you so hyped up you cant see clearly your own work.

  2. catconnor says:

    When I’ve finished a draft of a novel, I do let it sit. The length of time depends how I feel about it and whether I’m working on something else.

    There are a few novel drafts sitting waiting until I get back to them (unrelated to my series). I did consider that was laziness until it was pointed out that the first two in my series were released last year, the third is due on my publishers desk shortly – four and five are written but are in line for revision right after 3 is sent off.

    Burn out? Right now I am sick to death of book 3. I want it gone. GONE!

    I love the sound of your inner cheerleader Just a Girl! I have an inner drill sergeant… 🙂

    • Just A Girl says:

      my inner cheerleader also suggestion that I stop and bake cookies. Stop writing and knit a bit. Stop writing and contimplate my navel. I am not sure she is at all playing for my team. Possibly why i got nothing published but lots of stories half written.

      • catconnor says:

        How come your inner cheerleader encourages cookie baking and mine screams bloody murder if I lift my fingers off the keyboard? So not fair! I want cookies dammit! 🙂

      • hmmmmm – cookies make me fat…and i dont get my book done.

        to bad we cant share inner cheer leaders…like wife swap?

        I get all these book ideas written down – whole story lines written down (normally they come when I am vaccumming)…chapter summaries, character lists…just need the stuffing – its like…i got the pie dough all layed out but no filling…maybe you could come over and eat cookies and encourage me to write?

  3. Mark Terry says:

    I suspect you’re right, actually. I confess that although I’m a full-time freelance writer, I don’t quite get how you can work on fiction all day unless you’re writing 20 pages or so. Even my freelance life isn’t filled with writing–a lot of it is queries and research and screwing around on the internet (oh, I mean, research) and doing phone interviews and transcribing interviews and stewing about late checks. Let’s put it this way. If I have a nonfiction project due and I don’t get paid till 30 days after it’s due, and it’s due tomorrow, I can work all day to get it done, if necessary. I’m sure if properly motivated I could put in 8-10 hours at the actual keyboard writing, rather than all that, um, research.

    • tjs9261 says:

      Mark–I’m interested–how many words do you think you write a day…not queries, not research–but words toward an article or fiction?

      • Mark Terry says:

        Today, so far, 975 on a report I’m writing. Another 197 on an e-newsletter I’m involved in 2X per week.

        I don’t think today’s necessarily typical. This report I’m working on is a bastard and the section I’m working on essentially means I have to get a master’s degree in supply chain management over the course of about one week (a subject I know little or nothing about), so I’m spending most of the time just trying to understand the topic. If I get some fiction in today–I hope–I’ll put in about 5 double-spaced pages, so 1250 or so. I’ve got another hour or two to work on this report, so hopefully another 500 to a thousand there.

        I don’t think 2000-3000 on a good day of writing would be unusual. And if I actually have an article deadline, I might write anywhere from 1200 to 3000 words just on that article. My preferred method for an article is, once I get all the interviews done and transcribed, I like to write the article in one day, rather than break it up over several, although I will if I have to. Then print it out and go over it the next and turn it in. That will just depend on what my schedule’s like. This particular project is a ballbuster and has been a nuisance since it was first broached to me. I’d probably be less whiny about it if the advance check actually showed up. The project got a green light around January 12th (with a March 15th deadline), but I didn’t actually get the contract for my work until the 21st. I signed it, $10,000, half to be paid within 30 days of signing, half within 30 days after completion. No money yet. I’ve decided, unfortunately, that $10,000 wasn’t enough because it was described initially as being about half of an every-other-year project I do for $20,000. It’s not. It’s comparable, plus I know how much the publisher got paid ($55,000) by the client, which I don’t usually know. To-date the damned thing is over 210 single-spaced pages long and I expect the final will be over 300, give or take. Who knows how long once all the charts and graphs have been turned in.

        If I were just writing fiction and several magazine articles over the course of a week, rather than research intensive market research report, I imagine I’d be actually writing about 3000 words each day, maybe more.

        Offers still there to call.

    • Just A Girl says:

      Mark – just checked out your blog….Smarter than Jack Ryan!!!! that is some praise indeed! I think I need to pick up your books…i am running out of stuff to read…just finished four books this week. Sooo your now on top of my list as I have an affinity for both jason and jack…

      Tom – even if I never get published – the shear number of new and cool books I am introduced to via your blog makes me exttra special lucky i found you. And if I do get published I can blame you for encouraging me to write!!! never would have even tried to make the leap from reader to writer if it wasnt for you. So the world can look to you if they have to deal with what goes on in my mind in its published form 😀

      • tjs9261 says:

        Hey D,

        Mark is the goods…read ’em.

        I also love his contributions because he approaches this profession like a craftsman. He doesn’t have the luxury of writer’s block or waiting for the muse crap.

        And in that is the most elegant of all writing advice.

        Start, crank it out, revise, edit. Ignore the voice that says anything other than “write”.

  4. So the go read marks books voice I should ignore…
    what about the bake cookies and brownies voice
    and the i really need to knit my niece a sweater voice…
    how about the three little voices saying MOMMM MOMMMMMMMMMM…he took my legos…what about those voices.

    the one that says I have to be at my desk at 8AM…wearing a twin sweater set and pearls with my hair in a bun (i really hate the voice that wants me to dress like a secretary) and answer the phone and such…what about that voice?

    • catconnor says:

      Sounds like you need earplugs!
      There is time for everything – you just need to figure out how best to work that for you. 🙂

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