Sometimes the best thing you can do is not write

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? As a writer, you’re supposed to write. ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY, NO EXCEPTIONS. That’s what we hear over and over, and after much consideration, my response to this is: PFFFFFFTTTTT.

No, really. I don’t write every day and I’m pretty sure there are some people who would take back my OFFICIAL PROFESSIONAL WRITER card for that. But here’s the thing: writing is exhausting. It’s mentally taxing to juggle storylines, characters, conflicts, backstories, and structure all the time. Sometimes you just have to jump off the hamster wheel. The trick is knowing when.

So when do I bail on writing? Between drafts. This is sacred time. The manuscript gets put aside, sometimes for a week if I’m VERY unlucky; sometimes as long as a month. I don’t like it to sit too much longer than that because I don’t want to start forgetting the intricacies of the book. Three weeks is my absolute sweet spot, and it’s what I’m doing right now with the second Veronica Speedwell book. Between the two weeks in Europe and the days on either end of the trip to deal with packing and jet lag, I’ll get three weeks to let the book sit quietly, bubbling away, FERMENTING.

And when I come back, miraculously, magically, those rough spots will smooth right down. The holes I couldn’t figure out how to plug will have conjured their own fixes. The areas I liked will blossom into something even better. How does this strange alchemy work? Absence, in this case, really does make the heart grow fonder. The book doesn’t change at all, but without the constant presence of it sitting in my brain, I do change. I get just enough distance to gain some objectivity. I can appreciate what I’ve done well, acknowledge what I’ve done poorly, and my subconscious has a chance to work its magic, offering up solutions while I was resting.

I can’t wait to get back to this book when I get home–mostly because I know I will be so much better when I pick it back up.

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