I’ve done it… for the most part… write every day. I don’t always write on my WIP, but I do write every day. Still, somehow this advice always gnawed at me. Perhaps it is my Unorganized-Organized lifestyle. I’m excellent at organization. Seriously. However, my time-attention-span limits my interest. Like cramming the night before for a college exam, I can go full steam to finish a rough draft of a novel, or revise one, or put together a talk, or send postal letters to people. But always, I have several (writing) projects going on at various stages of completion (with some “completed” until editor or agent tells me otherwise).
So, because of various reasons, I recently found myself on a writing sabbatical. I didn’t even keep up with my blogs. (Shame on me… or not.)
Two months ago, a critique partner from long ago encouraged me to submit one of my Sitting-Till-I’m-Motivated-To-Again-Send-Out novels. I could see her wisdom of timing, and of her faith in me. I thought about it. But I still didn’t write (nor rewrite, nor revise, nor even pick the novel up for a peek). Then, last Monday another writing friend emailed me about an on-line agent contest that day — to sub the first 250 words of your finished MG or YA novel. I subbed the first page of this written-a-while-ago story. It was only after I pressed the send button that I looked at my novel’s word count — about half what is expected for a YA. Completed novel? YIKES! I figured I’d best break out of my sabbatical.
On Monday, I printed off the novel. I looked over notes from previous critiques. I dug out my research notes. I did some more research on line. I made a list of characters and their connections to each other, along with biographies. (<– Although I do that now with my stories, back then I just did research and wrote the story.) And while I was doing all this, I realized that not only was the story actually pretty good, but I also got very excited about it. My mind was churning. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
On Tuesday, I wrote an additional 1,100 words, all of which brought up a very interesting plot twist. (The original story now seemed bland without this addition.)
Today, I wrote another 1,600 words, including some revisions, and it’s not even noon.
I still have some more words to write to bring up that word count, but I’m hoping to have that done by the end of this week.
My writing sabbatical is over. I’m not only interested and excited about my story, I’ve set myself manageable goals to get it done. I don’t know if Monday’s on-line agent contest will produce any interest for a contract, but in a few days this story will be hot. Was my sabbatical worth it? You bet! I’m tackling this project with an enthusiasm I’ve lacked for a while. Plus, that enthusiasm overflows into other aspects of my life.
My advice: It is okay to take a guilt-free sabbatical. Yes, write every day. Yet, there are times when you need to step back in order to go forward.