I’ve been asking that question since getting up this morning. Well, to tell the truth, I’ve been asking it for the last two weeks, since finishing the final edits on a novel and seeing it through conversion, upload and watching the sales start to trickle in. This is nothing new. Each time I finish a project, whether it is a novel or a short story, there is a period of time when my brain sort of checks out and goes on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I can function. I’ve managed to rebuild the plumbing under two sinks without causing any floods and mow without cutting any appendages off. But when it comes to writing anything, be it a blog or getting started on the next project, well, that’s pretty much a lost cause.
Now don’t get me wrong. The brain is working on writing projects but in its own warped way. I can feel the basic threads of the next book coming together. Of course, the brain is only teasing me with little hints and not giving me enough to start writing. That would be too easy and too tempting. I might actually sit down at the keyboard and start writing again and the brain is determined to continue enjoying its vacation, even if it is beginning to stew on the next plot.
This isn’t burnout. I haven’t come close to hitting the wall (knocks on wood and looks around making sure no one really heard me say that). This is a normal process for me. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating, especially since I need to be working on Rye Crisp, the novel Sarah and I are collaborating on. I also need to be working on the next installment of the Nocturnal Origins series. Then there’s the next book in the series that shall not be named — at least not yet. And the space opera that is 3/4 finished. And. . . . Well, you get the picture.
The other problem with this is it makes blogging here difficult because I grouchy. That means any idiocy happening in the industry — and anyone supporting said idiocy — will be skewered, possibly more than they should be. So, instead of causing a war, I’ll try to sit back and wait until the brain decides to return home. And, yes, I have visions of it lounging around, enjoying a drink with a little umbrella in it — and I resent the fact the brain went and didn’t take the rest of me with it.
Of course, real life hasn’t been cooperating very well with the writing for the last week or so either. Without going into detail, we are in a waiting game with a beloved family member. It is that time we all dread, the time when we know the phone will ring and we’ll learn someone we love dearly is no longer with us. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, this weekend my son graduates from college. Add in the usual day-to-day kerfluffles and, well, it’s really no surprise the brain has checked out for awhile.
So what is a writer to do during this time of no-brain? For me, I do my best to catch up on all the chores I let slip while writing. That’s why all the plumbing repairs. It’s why I spent a day in the yard planting trees and shrubs. After exhausting the brain, it is time to exhaust the body. Fortunately, the temperature has been nice here in Texas and not in triple digits.
I’ve also been reading — a lot. Some of it has been research for one of the next books to be done. But a lot of it has been guilty pleasure books. You know the sort I’m talking about — the ones you are glad you have an e-reader or app on your tablet or laptop for since you don’t want to explain why you are reading that kind of book. No, I don’t read bodice rippers, at least not usually. But it is amazing the number of folks who will ask that question, with that emphasis, if they see you reading science fiction or fantasy or, gasp, history. We won’t even talk about some of the questions and comments that come when they see the political or economic books I read.
So, what do you guys do to ease through that transition period between the end of one book and the beginning of another?
Ah yes.. That time when I’m not writing. Well given the fact that I work two jobs and have three daughters I tend to spend that time doing that one thing… You know what I’m talking about. It involves beds and pillows and alarm clocks and maybe even some pajamas. I haven’t done it in awhile. Does anyone remember what this is called?
I vaguely remember that thing of which you speak. I think it’s called slepe…no, sleep. Yes, that’s it! Sleep. It’s been so long I really think it’s just an old wife’s tale about what people used to do. Still, it would be nice to do it myself one day. Sigh. ;-p
I’m feeling a bit snarky, too, it being Tuesday.
Before I comment, I want to say that
1) I am not minimizing YOUR pain
2) I do not want sympathy/pity/whatever. Okay?
I am just so darn envious!
I get up every morning. I try to wake up, but that’s not scheduled yet. Brain and I, we have work to do. Put in the first load of painkillers. Put in the First Diet Coke. Try – and fail – to turn on Freedom and get started with, you know, the actual writing?
Surf around a bit on the approved blogs list (kept very short – or I’ll be at this for hours). Check: brain focused yet? Nope.
Repeat. Possibly deal with some mail? Maybe a couple.
Take First Nap.
Half an hour later, try again. Add Second Diet Coke. Eat something – usually quick protein shake.
Brain actually starting to clear up a bit (takes much longer when had to take drugs to get to sleep the night before). Yoga – a couple minutes of stretching – what was I thinking trying to sprinkle fertilizer on the garden yesterday because rain is coming, and I’ve been promising the poor plants some food for over a month? Instead of doing a tenth of the garden, I finish the project. Ouch.
Whoo hoo! We are actually capable of reading our own words now. Reload brain with the notes taken two days ago when the time ran out.
Try again. Some days take Second Nap before focus will occur. Some days no luck. Other days the two to three hours of functionality go on, say, doing taxes.
At least your brain WORKS. Mine does not (CFS). Except for carefully managed bits of time when I MAKE it work.
Sometimes I wonder why I waste what usable time there is on writing fiction – and then I remember: it gives me more pleasure than anything else – and I would get supremely depressed if I stopped. I bet you would, too.
I can’t imagine what you go through, although I have friends with CFS and know what hell their lives can be. I applaud you writing and understanding how important it is to do because you enjoy it. I think all too often we tend to forget we need to take time to do things we enjoy.
There was no pause between writing the first non-fic book and researching the second one. I wrote the second book in five weeks, and returned to writing fiction short stories and internet articles. After the first novel (I’d only done short stories and novellas until last August), I launched into a non-fic research project, did revisions on one of the non-fic books, wrote more stories, and then started the current WIP. I’m not sure what I do between books, other than pat myself on the back, take a deep breath, look at the “books-to-be-read” pile, and start the next writing project. While teaching part time and working on lesson plans, research for my summer work, and other stuff (house cleaning, cat rotation).
When I was still doing non-fic, that’s what I did. I think part of my problem is that the “day job” is so closely related to writing that there isn’t an escape from some process of writing without taking down time now. Of course, it could also be a symptom of getting older — not that I’m admitting, even to myself, that I’m getting older. All I know is that if I finish a book that takes over as much as the last one did, I have to have some down time afterwards. Those books seem to be more emotionally and intellectually exhausting than others to.
I can’t say I have a routine since I just put my first novel up on Amazon this past Saturday. So, as someone more new to this, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to track a purchase. My dad bought one, and the sales report showed up several hours later. That was cool. I then dithered over my author page, revised the blurb, put a picture of myself up and took it down, looked at the Amazon page about 45 times, and generally was worthless for much of the day. I plan to be more cool next time around.
Heck, Laura, I still do that for the first few days after a book goes up. It’s natural. And congrats on getting the book up.
Thanks! And thanks for the guidance you and Pam gave me a couple weeks ago on this forum.
Yeah, there’s usually a break after publishing. There’s _always_ a break between finishing the manuscript, and the mandatory waiting period before the last read through. I get impatient and the brain refuses to do anything else. Then I open the file again . . . SQUIRREL!
When I publish a book? I catch up on a few things, but mostly just check the Kindle reports three times a day. 😉 I know, bad habit.
I’m whittling away at a stack of rough drafts, so there’s always something to edit . . . A cover to start/tweak/finish . . . A New Idea that I really didn’t need because the last three haven’t gotten written yet . . .
As I stated upthread, that sounds familiar and is usually how my brain works. I think the real problem is the last book was one that took over so firmly and pushed everything out of the way, be it work or other writing projects or just life. Now the brain is on vacation, saying I worked it too hard. The only problem is, I know it’s lying. I’m getting leaks from it about the next book in the series and I’m worried it will be like this last one — it will take over and will wind up taking over my life for the next month or so.
That’s what happened with the WIP. I’m supposed to be finishing the sequel to the novel I did last year. Instead in muscled what was to have been a fun, one shot, semi-historical. That one little book has turned into a trilogy that just informed me there’s a fourth volume lurking around the corner. Arrrgh! I do not have the time to be reading about the Wars of the Spanish Succession, Malplaquet, and Blenheim.
Welcome to my world. Wait until it then informs you that it isn’t going to be the genre you usually write, much less one you like to read. Bwahahahahaha — sob