Monday, June 8, 2015

Taking Breaks (Even When You Don't Want To)

It's no secret I'm a workaholic when it comes to writing. My (crazy) philosophy is that if I have free time, that free time needs to be spent working on something pertaining to writing. As I am on summer vacation from college, I have plenty of free time. As I am waiting for my agent to read revisions, I have plenty of free time. Thus, my workaholic mind has one word on repeat: WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK - you get the idea.

While this is sometimes a very good mindset to have (it helps me get revisions done lickety split and I can fast-draft like nobody's business), it's also a very bad one. Burnout happens a lot as a result. And this stems from not giving myself time to read other books in my genre (YA fantasy) to refill my writing well of inspiration.

Don't get me wrong; I've read a bit. I've finished a few New Adult contemporaries (all of which I loved to pieces). But New Adult isn't YA fantasy, and so it's a completely different well I'm filling. When I'm drafting, I rarely read, and if I do it's in other genres mostly so I don't accidentally mix up worlds/ideas/etc. It's just all around a safer road to take.

I'm in the outlining stage for another YA fantasy, one I am extremely excited about, but...I lack the motivation to work on it. Why? Well, it isn't because I'm not excited (see above). It isn't because the characters' voices are difficult to hop into (they're not). It's not because I haven't figured out the world, the mythology, or the social structure (all of which I have).

It's because my well is empty. And that right there is the hole in my balloon. When I have free time, I have to be working. It's how my brain is wired, as loathsome as that can be. And it's hard to convince my workaholic mindset that reading in my genre IS work. It's giving the story time to sit in my subconscious and create itself. It's giving myself time to see what works in YA fantasy that I may not know about yet.

It's just really damn hard to rewire my brain to think in different ways. To allow myself to relax and pick up a good book (or two or ten). I'm very skilled at stressing about stress before there's even stress to stress about. Which is ridiculous, I know, and I have no idea how that came around. Perhaps it's because when I'm in school, most of my free time is spent working on writing in some way, shape, or form.

But breaks are important, even when you don't want to take them. And to that end, I'm forcing myself to step back from drafting for the time being. I know once I get into it, I'll enjoy it. I've already started AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and have THE WRATH AND THE DAWN up next.

How about you? Do you ever force yourself to take a break? Or are you one of the lucky ones who finds it easy to take a step back?

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