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!