Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Refreshing the Writing Momentum
It's no secret. Keeping writing momentum is difficult. Especially on long projects.
You're anything but losing interest in your characters or the story. But, damn. It's tough. You're working at it every day. This might be a one-hundred-thousand-word story. It might be longer. You might be at it and at it and at it, living inside this world for six months or more. It's a long stretch of time, especially when the landscape of the world outside your window, seems to change on a minute-by-minute basis these days. You need a short break. Plain and simple.
What do I do? I give in. I stop for a while. I do something else, like hammer out a blog post (yep, that's what I'm doing right now) or I turn my attention to a short story -- something I can draft in a day or two. Then I come back to the longer work -- hopefully refreshed.
Other diversions can offer sanity and hope, too.
I spend some time trying to write an entirely different genre or type of work for a day or two. If I'm in the midst of a big, scary, dramatic thing, maybe I'll use tomorrow's writing time (if I'm lucky enough to have any) on a lighter, travel piece. Or maybe a silly comedy retelling of a dorky road trip I took ten years ago.
Sounds simple enough, right? Just switch gears, do something different. Yes, but easier said than done, in my experience. I get so invested that it's hard to step out of something: writing or otherwise. I want it to be perfect. It takes real courage to step away for a while and not stress that you might lose the mojo. I've lost it before. Most of the time it comes back. Sometimes it doesn't. In those cases, I know that I probably need to adjust the whole project or scrap it completely. Again, this is easier said than done.
For me, though, I need a reprieve from time to time. I need to go for a mental walk...or a literal one. It's usually just the right distance to realize I was on the right track and that I should head back to see what's what it that big ol' world I created.
And, more often than not, I come back and discover that I missed my characters something fierce. Then I have to ask their forgiveness, because, in all likelihood, I might have left them in a dark room or slung over the side of a literary cliff.