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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When the Brain Needs a Vacation

Three-day weekends are murder for my writing schedule. It's hard to get anything done with all the kids at home demanding attention and entertainment. I still had the best of intentions. I read the notes from my beta-reader. I made plans to edit come Tuesday morning. I conveniently forgot that Bambino was scheduled for a hearing test Tuesday morning... The hearing specialist called with a reminder so we wound up going anyway.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon where I'm staring like a zombie at my manuscript. It's just a little edit. A few changes. Nothing too pressing. Really, even a trained monkey could do it!

Which proves that a trained monkey is smarter than I am, or hasn't spent as much time with this manuscript. I beat my head against the keyboard for a few minutes and tried to figure out what was wrong.

- Had I read the manuscript all the way through? Yes!
- Has I let someone else read and critique? Yes!
- Had I saved? Yes!
- Had I let it sit for at least two weeks? Um... *squeaky sound as I clean my ears* Come again?

Oh, right, the brain needs time away from projects. That's why so many agents blog about querying and writing something Completely Different! This is why so many self-pubbed authors have multiple series running at once, so they can work on one and move off to the other to change gears. Because if you don't change gears, you strip gears.

To switch analogies, think of baking bread. You spend five minutes kneading the bread, and an hour doing something unrelated. Yet you come bake and bake the bread. Are you working on the bread? Yes. Is it in the back of your mind? Yes.

The same goes for writing. Authors do a majority of their work away from the words. We plot while we clean, drive, talk, and earn money at day jobs. We mentally edit scenes in our dreams and our cars. We think up new ideas while grocery shopping and taking showers. Taking time to think (or purposefully not think) about a story is no bad thing.

So I'm switching gears until the first of November.

There's another project that's been patiently waiting for attention. The exact plot is vague, but the MC is snarky and fun. It's a different world, a different set of rules, a good way to cleanse the mental palate and get my brain back on the creative writing track.

How do you switch gears between projects or drafts?


  1. Well, I always have a lineup of things. "Write one thing, switch to the next, and so on and so forth." Somewhere along the way, it should loop back around itself and become "Edit the first thing, then the second, and so on."

    I typically have a lot of projects brewing in my brain at once, so it's not too hard to tuck one away in the corner and switch to something else for a while. =)

  2. I try to line up things but then it always seems to derail when I actually need to make the switch.