When I am on the downhill ride of a novel, that part where the ideas tumble out so fast I almost can’t type enough words per minute to keep up, in the back of my head, I remember thinking, “I’m going to keep this momentum going.” At this point of the creative journey, I wake up in the morning and write, I’ll hide at a coffee shop after work and write more, then go home to eat dinner with my family before writing even more after everyone goes to bed. It’s like a sickness. It’s glorious.
When I’m done writing a novel, I’m spent. So much so that I just want to walk away and never look at it again. I love what I’ve accomplished, but I already ran that marathon and I’m ready for a well-deserved break. Of course, it’s not that easy. The next steps are beta team critiques, editing, cover design, more editing, and lots of marketing. Even though I know it’s okay to take a break, there’s always something that needs to be done and it weighs on me.
I Beat Myself Up A Bit
Months later, when I’ve gotten back in the habit of showing up to work on time, finally fixed that leaky sink, and actually returned to the gym more than 2 days in a row, I start kicking myself, hard. What happened to that momentum? Where did my amazing writing habits go? How is it that life took back over with such a firm grip? Yes, I needed to lose those 10 pounds, and paint the house, and remind my friends I’m alive, and go to that school function, oh yeah, and don’t forget leveling up to 100 and taking the hot office manager to lunch…
The reasons are valid at first, but procrastination eventually takes over. (Taking the hot office manager to lunch is not procrastination, that’s important, but the other stuff is questionable!) I may kick myself, but I still find excuses not to write. The guilt starts seeping in. One of my beta team members will offhandedly comment that I must be getting close to done with the next book by now. Or, a cautious reader will politely ask how the next book is coming. Or, I get the dreaded amazing review that excitedly teases future books. That kind of encouragement is just about everything I could ask for, but I worry that the next novel won’t be as good. So, I beat myself to write words that only trickle out. And then, today, I finally realized…Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig is an amazing James Bond. I haven’t seen Spectre yet, but I’ve enjoyed all of the Bond movies he’s been in. I mean, Skyfall, right? In spite of the accolades and excitement surrounding their release, when he’s finished a Bond movie, he’s done. Like, really done. You can google plenty of interviews where he states he’s not making another one. He’ll blast the Bond character (most recently as a misogynist) and state he’s never coming back. But, never say never again (see what I did there?). The man gets exhausted. He puts everything he can into doing an amazing job and the last thing he wants to do is dive back in again. Craig doesn’t even want to think about it…and that explains a lot. Pierce Brosnan summed it up well in an interview with Hitfix, “By the time you finish making a Bond movie, you don’t want to hear the name, see the name or have anything to do with it because you just want to go to ground.”
I Finally Get It
Hopefully Daniel Craig comes back for another Bond film, they are a lot of fun. He has all of my respect whether he chooses to or not, but I get why he wouldn’t. Joss Whedon has said in interviews how exhausting it is to do a movie like Avengers. At the end of Age of Ultron, he was just as done as Craig is with Bond. I think before deciding to tackle another big project like that, you have to rest, maybe even heal. You need time to remember what you love about that world and the characters in it. You have to remember why it was fun. Now, I get my problem.
It’s Okay To Take A Break
No, writing one of my novels is not on the same scale as creating a tentpole blockbuster…yet. I, unfortunately, don’t have the same budget. Unfortunately. I also don’t walk away from my life to focus exclusively on my writing, I can’t. But I do pour everything I have into them, to the point of exhaustion. There are nights I have literally written myself to tears. And now that some people enjoy reading them, it’s that much more important to me that the story is the best I can make it. I’m exhausted when it’s done, and need to remember that it’s okay to take a break.
It’s Coming Around
What I need to remember is… that’s okay. Sure, every writer will tell you that to become good you need to write every day. I’ve told plenty of people that myself; it’s solid advice. But, I think it’s just as important to love writing, to love your characters, and to believe in your story. I have a hard time doing that when I’m exhausted, but over time I remember again why I write, why I’m telling this story and what I love about the characters I write about.
For me, that love is coming back, and it’s about damn time. I’ve written roughly 30% of Angst 4, and writing momentum is picking up. More importantly, I’ve started making notes at night, I’m getting giggles throughout the day about what I’m going to write in the evening, I’m getting excited again. I love that. And, the good news is that my excuses are almost gone. The house is just about taped back together, my daughter’s marching band season is over, and the gym can bite me! (I still need to make those lunch plans, though). It’s time, and this is the good part, because I can’t wait to share my next story!