Monday, June 06, 2011

Take Some Time To Breathe

This is a part of the monthly blog chain. This month's topic is "Fresh Air."

"All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath."
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

I feel like I just came up for air... again. 

Last week, I finished some massive edits on Homebody, edits that had me seriously changing one of the storylines. I think (hope, pray) the edits make sense and actually make a stronger story. It's with one of my fellow CWer critters right now. I guess we'll see.

Photo by MaHidoodi
Whenever I finish a project, I feel like I've just come up from air after being underwater too long. With Homebody, it's been something where I've been coming back up for air over the last 5 or so years, only to be forced back under again. Then, I escape my captor, grab a breath, then get caught again. Sometimes, other captors grab me, giving Homebody a necessary break, but it's always something. I have to be working on something.

As much as I love the feeling of being able to say "It's done... for now," I feel restless without a project to work on. When I was younger, I'd just switch hobbies for a while. That's when I usually made something with some yarn and crochet hooks. Now, I feel completely unproductive unless I've got something to write. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be able to crochet or sew again without feeling guilty about not writing. My craft storage box--where I keep a collection of crochet hooks, patterns, and candle-making supplies--hasn't been touched in well over a year. 

I've already taken my gasp of breath and dived into the rewrite of my futuristic mystery/sci-fi Cora's Song--which is going to get renamed, to what, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll take suggestions.

But, I digress.

As much as I appreciate the ability for some artists to take lengthy breaks between projects, I'm not sure I could ever be one of them. Sure, I'm a sporadic writer right now. It kinda goes with the territory of having a 10-month old and an active preschooler. But, I can see myself being one of those ├╝ber-productive writers who spend 6 - 8 hours a day writing, and publishing 4 - 6 books a year. I read an article about Nora Roberts a while back. This reflects some of her habits. Totally inspired me.

Until that happens and the kids are a little older, I'll keep at it, taking a quick burst of fresh air between projects, and diving back into it.

Today's Question: Do you take time to "breathe" between writing projects? If so, how long do you take?

Until next time,


Traci B said...

Good post, Liberty. Glad to know I'm not the only "sporadic writer" out there and that I'm not alone in feeling guilty if I'm doing something that isn't writing (I have flashbacks to college days, where I felt guilty if I was doing something other than hitting the books all the time, especially if I had unfinished homework).

Cindee Snider Re said...

Liberty, I'm at a different place in life than you with older kids (10-18), and while writing and homeschooling has been a bit of a challenge, God has always graciously granted just enough time for the projects at hand. I'll miss homeschooling all five next year, but I'm also looking forward to this new time in this new season of life with only four at home. Quite an adventure, this writing life! Grateful to be travelling the road alogside fellow Christian Writers.

From Carol's Quill said...

Liberty -- I loved this idea of gasping for fresh air between projects!

Jen J. Danna said...

This is something that I should probably do more than actually occurs. When I'm done a project, I may give it time to breathe, but I don't take that time myself and just jump right into something else that needs doing. Like you, apparently I need to be working on something. I think part of it is the work load and part of it my fear of losing my impetus. I'm sure my husband would be happy if I took a break, but I just don't seem to be capable of it.

Victor Travison said...

It's true, being immersed in a project can be so stifling, you need to come up for air once in awhile. Then you can see the story with fresher eyes. Just like being immersed in water can be stifling.

Great post, Liberty.

~ VT

Tracy Krauss said...

This was a great interpretation of the theme. (And I'm so glad to see someone actually posting!! :) I'm not sure where I fit in. I rarely take long breaks of any kind, but sometimes my writing isn't as focused as I'd like it to be. I have, at times, had ten or twelve writing projects going on at once, which can sometimes be difficult because you forget small details and accidentally insert the wrong thing ... I've tried to 'finish' some before going on to something new, but sometimes I get bored with one and just have to move on!

Nona King said...

:) Enjoy the air while it lasts. It was refreshing to read a like heart/mind when it comes to the guilt if you're not writing. Do you ever find yourself horrified by the thought of not having another story idea?

I do.

Sarah said...

Great post, Liberty! I also have a very difficult time feeling productive unless I write. So, needless to day, I don't really take a breath in between.
Looking forward to hearing more on your progress with Homebody! :D

Christine Henderson said...

I wish I had more energy and time to write. Now I'm working a 9 hr day with a 2 hour commute. I'm spent when I come home and just feel the energy to catch up on the basics until I can get a day off.

I'm glad you have the time and energy to do your writing!

Sheila said...

Wow, a lot of workaholics here. I do feel guilty when I'm not writing but not guilty enough! Good job, Liberty. You're an inspiration!

E. G. Lewis said...

Sorry to be coming in late. Like you, I've been struggling to comple a work in progress...among other things.
Do I take time between projects? I always promise myself I will, but somehow never seem to manage to pull it off. ;-)

I've also never quite understood how Nora ROberts can crank out so many books a year. How she, or anyone for that matter, can do it is beyond me.

Maybe you'll be one of those people. I know it's beyond my capabilities.
Peace and Blessings

Liberty Speidel said...

I'll reply more when my computer is up. I'm on my smartphone. But thank you everyone for stopping by!

Liberty Speidel said...

@Traci, Oh, I know that feeling! I can remember feeling guilty while riding in the back of a pickup on my grandparent's property around the age of 10 or 12 for not reading while riding!

@Jen, it's a vicious cycle. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. :)

@Victor, I will frequently swap projects, giving my brain a chance to breathe between edits, even though I stay busy.

@Tracy, I'm a multi-tasker, too, but I've been training myself the last few years to try to tamp that down to two, possibly three projects. Though, if you're working on shorts, I guess it would be somewhat reasonable to have it in the 10 - 12 range!

@Nona, that's my worst nightmare! When I start getting nervous that I'm not getting story ideas, usually I get a new one in the next few weeks.

@Christine, I don't always. Some days, I don't even LOOK at any of my open files. I wish it wasn't the case, but with 2 kids, one with special needs, sometimes it's impossible.

@E.G., I read an article on Wikipedia not too long ago on Ms. Roberts (of whom, I'm a fan of her "In Death" mystery series, not so much her romances) and the article said she writes 8 hours a day, even on vacation! That's how she is so prolific. I also read that she works on a trilogy all at one sitting (so to speak) so the characters are fresh, then writes 3 "In Death" books... wow. She's a phenomenal inspiration to any writer!

Victor Travison said...

I've never been a multitasker, never could keep track of more than three things at once. At the moment, that's publishing Wild Green Yonder, editing an already-written, and dealing with doctor appointments and the rest of real life. You guys with umpteen projects, I don't know whether to congratulate you or tell you so slow down! ;)

~ VT

Scott Fields said...

To answer your question: I rarely need to "come up" for breath between projects . . . seeing as how I find plenty of time to breath during my projects. I give myself too much time and space to focus on other things when I should be writing. You can usually find me hyperventilating when I should be diving deep.

Like Sheila, I feel guilty about it, but never guilty enough. I envy you your drive. It'll bring you plenty of success in the long run.

Thanks for your post!

Scott Fields said...

I have time to "breath." A nice, deep "breathe" of fresh air. Lovely, Scott. . . .

Liberty Speidel said...

Ha, Scott! We all make typos. It's expected, even in the best of us.

Victor, it's a skill that has to be developed. Some do well with it, others don't. I started multi-tasking with my writing at a very young age (radio, TV, writing at the same time.) It just progressed to being able to juggle two, three, or even sometimes four projects at once. Now I just have to juggle paragraphs between kiddos... ;)

lynnmosher said...

Great post, Liberty! I don't know that I ever take a breath between writings. There are always at least three writings going on in some state of completion. I guess writing is my breath!

Terrie said...

It's not my personality to take breaks between projects-not for any lenght of time. But I do need to step back for a day or two to reorganized my thoughts.

Nice post-keep up the good work

Chris Depew said...

Liberty, I love the imagery of being held underwater by a WIP. I feel that way on every project, either writing or otherwise. We learn to live for the breaths that we get to take. Sometimes, with young kids, those moments might take your breath back away. Thanks for being a part of the chain. God Bless.

Liberty Speidel said...

Lynn, Terrie, and Chris: Thank you! :)

MGalloway said...

Great post. I think it is beneficial to take a break between projects...although maybe not for too long. I've always wondered about writers that tried to write 1,000 words a day no matter what (i.e. Ray Bradbury), but that never seemed to work for me. Maybe it depends on how intensely you work on a particular project, I don't know.

As for myself, I tend to alternate between writing and programming...sometimes going for weeks without writing anything.

Liberty Speidel said...


Oh, I definitely go weeks without writing anything... but I still feel guilty about it! (Unless I'm too preoccupied with other things, like my son's health.)

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