I have wanted to be a published author for almost as long as I can remember. I have been writing potential books for years, first during school and then a smaller amount during university. When I finished university, I said to myself that I would dedicate most of my time and energy to finishing a novel and trying to get it published. Mental health issues and work interfered. Again, I tried but I found myself feeling stressed and anxious about having to write the next day and reaching a certain word count. I tried different ways of measuring progress: word count, time spent on writing and just writing anything but nothing stuck. Then I realised: writing is meant to be fun, yes, it is hard work but I don’t want to be spending my time feeling stressed and anxious about something that I am supposed to love. So, I took a break. I ended up starting this blog which I absolutely love and I believe that it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
After about a month of not working on my novel at all, I started to feel like planning. I had about half of a first draft and I knew the main points of the plot but when I sat down to write I struggled to write much because I did not know exactly what was going to happen. When I have the scene outlined or in my head, I can just sit down and the words can flow. So, I decided to work out a more comprehensive outline. I had some cue cards that I had bought for outlining before so I picked them up and titled each one with each location that I knew the characters would be going to. Then I added some plot details: significant things that I knew were going to happen there and I started bullet pointing each step in the scene that I was currently on. I moved the scenes around until the order clicked in my mind and I could see the entire plot. These cards are now on my wall and it is amazing to see the rest of my novel up there.
Instead of trying to write every day or reach particular word counts, I think that the best thing for me is to write when I feel like it. It may take longer to finish my novel or it may take the same amount of time given that my routines never worked for long but I will enjoy the journey far more. It may take one year or five to finish my novel and although I do want to get my stories out into the world, I also want to enjoy life and making a passion into a chore is just not for me.
I think that once I have finished one novel, I will find it easier to write the next one and that I will write it more quickly. After all, improvement is about practice and I cannot wait to write down all of the stories that fill my heart and mind.
How do you write? Have you ever taken a break from writing?