Monday, 27 December 2010


My hypothesis on writing versus sleep is usually that writing wins hands down. The same applies for editing. I put my writing needs before my human needs, and I know it’s pointless trying to go to sleep because I won’t be happy if I haven’t completed the scene or chapter I wanted to finish.

Yesterday was the exception. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was in a different mood. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel particularly creative or energetic – I wrote a short story and got a load of work done – I just didn’t feel like editing. I stared at my MS, desperately trying to edit one of my favourite scenes in the novel, all the while fighting the feeling that something wasn’t right. Eventually, I made myself shut it down and didn’t come back to it that day.

I was worried that night. I was worried something was wrong with the scene. I couldn’t quite place what, whether it was sentence structure, dialogue, overall tone ... I was stuck. I simply couldn’t place my finger on it. I stepped away from it, and after a good night’s sleep, I woke up today feeling refreshed.

All the worries that had been on my mind had disappeared. I tackled the scene easily, and I was surprised to find that everything worked. There was no problem which had been nagging at me yesterday. The only problem had been me. I wasn’t in the right mindset for editing, and because I wasn’t, any chance I had of doing a decent job went out the window. Days where I’m not in the right mindset are rare, but I have them. Writing is no exception. Some days, you can only step back from the project and hope to tackle it tomorrow.

I’ve done a lot of work today, and I know I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near this much done yesterday; it would have been an uphill struggle. Putting off editing for one day didn’t kill me. Actually, it helped. Maybe it was just my mind forcing me to get other tasks finished. Either way, I’ve had a productive few days, and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved.

Getting a fresh start can make all the difference. Whether it’s choosing sleep over writing for once, waiting a few extra days to do those revisions, or even using the new year to start another project – it can really refresh you. Some days, creativity is harder to find than others. The trick is knowing when to search for it and when it let it build for a while. Breaks are your friend, no matter how horrifying it may be to walk away for a time.

I’ve finished editing Part Two in RW, and I’m onto Part Three. It’ll be great to get the third draft underneath my belt, so I can polish it up one final time and send it to my test readers. Then I have an incredibly nervous wait with the thought of their criticisms and what they’ll think of my characters. Hopefully, I’m on the right track. Wish me luck!


  1. Yup, that's the scariest part. Having to walk away, because you fear it might never return. But we gotta do what we gotta do.

  2. Yeah, sometimes sleep can work wonders. You worry at a problem and when you wake up, you know the solution. Sadly, that doesn't happen very often to me. Just have to sit there and work and work at it most often.

  3. Worrying and not sleep will definitely make it hard to concentrate--or want to do it. Sleep definitely will win in the long run.

    I'm glad you're back on track! Good luck on the editing! :)

  4. I'm the same way. I usually just force myself through it, but if it's not meant to happen, it takes me daaaaaaaays to get through just one chapter. And then I still don't feel like it's good yet!

  5. I can write when stressed (I *need* to write at those times!) but not when I'm physically exhausted. If I'm dragging through something it often helps to switch projects. Like a different pair of shoes, a change is as good as a rest for me. But when my brain turns to mush and my eyes are scratchy I know working on anything is pointless. It's time for bed.

  6. Ollin: The only thing I've ever seriously walked away from was my first real attempt at a novel, because the plot was circling and going nowhere. I started another project after it, and it's turned into a triolgy, so I was happy with that decision to abandon ship. Maybe one day I'll rewrite it - I'd love to finish that project. I guess it's just knowing when the right time is to return to something.

    Sonia: A new day can change your whole perspective on something! Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Struggling through does work for me usually, but in occasions like this, I couldn't do it. Mostly, it's just trying to work out the balance between what you can step away from, and what you need to fix straight away.

    Devin: I'm glad it does, it helps. In the short run, I'll still enjoy my late night writing and editing sessions though. Thanks, I actually finished my third draft tonight, I'm so pleased!

    Jessica: I've had that struggle; it's awful when it really is that hard to write, but you know you'll get through it eventually. There's light at the end of the tunnel, it just takes a long time to reach. I'm sure we'll both get there in time!

    Carol: When I'm stressed, writing is actually a good distraction for me, but exhaustion is something that affects me too much. I'm the same, I have to pick my battles, and occasionally sleeping wins. At least I know the same problem will be there waiting for me when I'm not as tired tomorrow - that's if it hasn't sorted itself out in my own mind by morning anyway!