Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Last month I broke one of the Sacred Holy Commandments of Writing: Thou Shalt Not Stop Writing A First Draft Until It Is Complete.

The idea behind this is so ubiquitous on writing websites, in writing books, and among writers in online message boards and forums, that it feels almost like a real law, like something written into the Constitution of the United States: get the words onto paper (or "paper" these days) first, then see to everything else. Variations on this include: You can't revise what isn't written; the only guaranteed way to never get published is to stop writing; and all of NaNo.

Yet, upon reaching the 40K word mark for my second novel, THE HOLLOW QUEEN, I took a break.

I know, tie me to the writer's post and have me flogged with a whip made from Stephen King's "On Writing."

Why did I take a break? I had to. I had been pushing THQ so hard that the story was beginning to unravel. A new main character I hadn't counted on was starting to take over, and a subplot I never thought about had popped up. I also had two short story ideas that would not give me peace. I figured, if I took a break from the big project to focus on two smaller projects, I could go back to THQ refreshed, relaxed, and ready to pull the story back together.

And you know what? It worked.

Sometimes rules, even the most sacred and unbreakable ones, need to be broken.

I'm now ready to wrestle with the new main character, clean up the new subplot, and I have two new short stories to cast out into the world of markets, contests, and anthologies.

My final word count goal for THQ is 120K, and from there I plan to pare it down to 100-105K. If I write 1,000 words a day from here on out I can finish the first draft by the end of June and have a revised draft for my crit partners by September. After that I have another half-written novel, WANDERLUST, to finish up. Next year I plan to focus on more short stories and revisions, though, of course, I can always take a break to write another novel. *grin*

Do you ever take breaks in the middle of really big projects, or do you have to plow through to the end? How many writing projects do you usually have going on at once?

1 comment:

  1. I take breaks, but I'm not sure I'd call them intentional, they're more "failure to focus" breaks. Occasionally I also take "lose faith in your ability to not suck" breaks, but usually not with longer work. I tend to have a few things up in the air all the time, partially because I'm not historically good at working hard at one thing.