I'm hoping my manuscript will benefit from the hands-off approach and grow into something larger ... something worth chasing ... like a ball or stick or mail truck.
To recap, I participated in November's National Novel Writing Month. Upon meeting my goal of 50,000 words and getting the roughest of drafts down, I stopped writing "cold turkey" the day before Thanksgiving. Unlike many of my #NaNoWriMo peers, I chose not to push my word count higher, even though my women's fiction project will probably need at least another 20-30K words.
"Sutton's Second Chance" includes an addict's story. At the start, I didn't realize how emotionally draining this plot line would prove, and, though proud of my month-long accomplishment, I found myself glad to step away from the manuscript once I met my November goal. It's not that I didn't want to touch it again. Quite the opposite. At its bones, it's a story which must be told and heard. Exhausted, I simply wanted a chance to recover and enjoy the holidays with family. I intended to continue that writing break through until the end of the year and start again in January.
The joke was on me. The brain apparently didn't get the memo. It hasn't rested since Turkey Day.
Though my keyboard hasn't produced any fiction in almost a month, I haven't stopped writing in my head. I haven't stopped thinking about my story. I've been working quite hard, actually, straightening out the kinks, firming up the plot, getting to know my characters, identifying missing chapters, and tossing half-formed ideas at my husband like hot potatoes from the oven — often randomly in the middle of the football game or an hour after turning off our bedside light.
I'm a planner. When I start a project, I like to research and outline the basics, before I begin. That planning is a great start, but every project evolves once I'm in it. So much of my best "writing" is done away from my computer, after the bones of the story are down. I'm taking the time to let my brain catch up to what my heart poured out on the page.
Each writer approaches a project in a different way, but every writer can benefit from a break from the keyboard. Every writer can benefit from time to think.
To be clear, I've been taking notes as my ideas surface. It's a terrifying, incredibly long, hand-written list of what I need to further research, change, eliminate, or add, when I finally decide to go back to the keyboard and begin again. It will take me months just to finish that first draft and likely a year to produce a draft worthy of a beta reader.
But I'm okay with that. My writing will be stronger for it and far more ready for an agent's eyes, someday, because I let my fledgling manuscript get a good rest like the napping dog.
I am not a #NaNoWriMo writer who pushes to publish before the dust settles. I have no gripe with those writers, and many produce beautifully crafted first drafts. That's not me. My work needs time to mature—grow—while I'm away from the keyboard.
And thinking about EVERYTHING.
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