Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Five things to do between writing projects

The exhilaration you feel at the end of a project can sometimes turn to self-doubt – do I have another project in me? Will I ever have enough new ideas to fuel another? Couple this with the fact that for a writer, not having the intensity of writing normally associated with the end of a project can feel like a withdrawal - there's a temptation to leap into another ill-considered and under-developed project just to feel that you are 'writing' again.

Don't rush into something just to get your writing fix – the next WIP will come along soon enough – take the opportunity to recharge physically, emotionally and creatively. You'll be a better writer for it.

Here are five suggestions for allowing yourself a breather without losing your writing game.

Wallow in (sub) cultural indulgence

You know those dvd box-sets you've been putting off watching because it would eat too much of your writing time? That guilty romance novel you've put aside because it wasn't relevant to the WIP? The sports events you haven't been watching? Get back into them. Treat yourself. You'll feel like you're relaxing but you'll also be involving yourself with stories and drama without it feeling like work.

Return to your inspiration sources

Go back to the things that seed your imagination, the things that make you the person you are, the things that made you want to write in the first place. For me it's music – the abstract yet emotive quality of it makes me feel things that I want to capture in my writing – for you it may be golf. Whatever it is, go back there.

Get some exercise

Your shoulders are hunched and your stomach is pillowing over your keyboard – it's time to offset all that time spent in the writing chair - you'll feel better for it, will probably have more sex, and it will prepare you for the six months of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome required for the next project. The Ancients believed that the body should be exercised along with the mind – and who doesn't want the body of a Greek god?

Get a life

You know those friends you've ignored? With all their life-history and stories and conversation that would not only be fun to hear about but may just provide you with material. Re-connect. Go out, get drunk - interact with that big bad ugly human-race - and get yourself something to write about.

Don't force it

Germinal ideas are like seeds – they need time to grow – you can feed and water them but don't start digging them out before they're ready. There's a temptation when you have the inkling of a good idea to grasp at it – especially when you're looking for the next project – but you may end up throttling it out of existence. Write it down so you don't forget it (which you won't if it really is a good idea) and let it fester away in the back of your mind. Then get back to your golf.


  1. Great tips James!

  2. Nice tips! It's always nice to reward yourself, especially after the grueling task of finishing that first draft. Time to detox! Recharge! Get the creative juices flowing for later.

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  4. It is definitely very important to live your life and get back to everything else. New experiences are vital so that your writing stays fresh.

  5. Gee, and here I thought I was writing to put space inbetween what is listed here. Guess I've had it backwards all this time!

    But I do find the need to "leave it be" rolls around every so often. I return to my inspiration source regularly. Also, just getting with friends is such bonus time to recoup the energy to sit alone and write.

    Writing, like life, is all about long as writing gets most of the balance.

  6. Apologies to all for taking so long to respond to your comments - I've been away from my blog for a while recovering from a writing knock-back but I'm here again. Thank you all so much for reading and commenting - and welcome to new readers. It means a lot to me that you come here and contribute.