Writing a novel can be overwhelming -- DUH!
Whether you have already written 85,000 words, or none at all, it's a huge undertaking to keep the many elements of a good story in check.
In my case, I brain dump a lot of the time, writing out scenes as they pour from my imagination. No matter how brilliant I might believe myself to be when I'm writing those scenes, I know there will come a time when I need to edit. The thought of cutting out chunks of these scenes makes my stomach turn. Still, I know it will only tighten up my story and make it better.
Recently, I'd gone through two critique sessions with my RWA (Romance Writers of America) group for my current work-in-progress "Tame My Racing Heart." The first critique inspired major edits, including reordering a few chapters, and condensing a few others. It was so exciting to get feedback from this group as many of them are in the same boat. Some are published, all are working on their own novels. Some of them are new to the process, some know just what a novel needs. All are fans of the romance genre. It was scary and thrilling to go through the process the first time. Lucky me, I had the opportunity to do it twice.
So, full disclosure...that second critique session was well over a month ago and I haven't touched my work-in-progress since.
I felt overwhelmed by the thought of not only going back to revise those first 20 pages, but an entire novel that needs the same attention.
So, I decided to take a break.
Taking a break from writing isn't as easy as it sounds -- there's a cloud of guilt that surrounds it. How will I ever get published if I let my novel sit in a drawer? Still, procrastination and laziness can be helpful.
1. It gives your brain (and story) a chance to breathe...you've been focusing on these characters for so long, you're ready to drown them on the Titanic and type "the end." Or, you've weaved so many subplots into your novel, you can't remember the what, when or where of most of them. The fogginess in your head will clear in time, and you can go back to it with a fresh eye.
2. You can always work on something else...whether it's another story, cleaning out your closets, learning how to knit or finding another creative outlet, this is your time. Use it well.
3. It's an opportunity to read!...Work on that Goodreads Reading Challenge! Enjoy reading a story that is completely different from your own, or, maybe something in your genre that will spark an idea in your own story. You can also check out some resource books like Save The Cat or The Story Grid to help you organize your scenes.
4. You can network for inspiration...while writing is a solitary experience, there's no reason why you can't change out of your fuzzy bunny slippers and matching pajamas, put on some fancy clothes and actually (gasp!) hang out with other writers. There are so many meet-ups, social events, and such, that can get you in the company of other creative minds.
5. It's a stress reliever...yes, there's stress that the novel is just sitting there and your desire to be published will never be fulfilled, but try to not worry about it for a while. Set a date to go back to it, and just enjoy the time you're taking off. Remind yourself, it's for the good of the story.
That said, the daunting task of editing has loomed over my head on a daily basis for over a month and I feel I'm finally ready to tackle the revisions. Especially since I was just notified that my novel is a finalist in an RWA contest! I'm feeling extremely motivated to get back to work!