Have you ever found yourself in a bind with your writing project?
You know what I’m talking about. Those long hours you spend wading through the stagnant muck of defeat, those dragging days when inspiration is hard to find and you wonder if your project is worth all this energy, all this work, all this raw emotion.
When you hit that block and you’re feeling discouraged, set the project aside, open a new document, and start from scratch. Don’t even think about your current project. Think about everything else. Anything else. The possibilities are endless. Do you want to begin another novel? Do you want to write a memoir? A short short story? A poem? A song?
Take a break.
Take a breath.
And try something new.
You can come back to your project later. It will always be there, waiting for you to return with renewed inspiration. But rather than getting burnt out, take a hiatus from it. Isaac Asimov owned several typewriters and had different projects going on in each one.
I currently have three, yes, THREE novels in progress. One is completed and just needs revisions. The other two are about 1/4 and 1/2 completed. When I tire or get discouraged with one book, I set it aside and move on to the next. If I don’t feel like writing any of them, I write a flash fiction story. (I’m having my first flash fiction story published this coming May with Splickety Love Magazine!)
Which is another reason to try something new, something small. Writing short stories not only teaches you to tighten your writing, but also presents possible opportunities to get published sooner, which is a huge encouragement for unpublished writers, like me, who are waiting for the big acceptance letter.
I love what James Scott Bell says in his book Revision & Self-Editing:
“When [your brain] gives its attention fully to one thing, it gets tired of that thing after a while. By switching to another focus, it begins again with fresh energy. When you’re hot and heavy in revision, you can still ‘ping-pong’ between projects. This will spark a different part of your writer’s brain, and when you come back to revise you’ll have fresh insight.”
All that said, I do warn you not to start too many new things. You don’t want to be up to your elbows in projects with none of them close to the finish line. Three novels are my extent. I WILL NOT allow myself to begin another until one of these is completed and ready for submission.