It’s been a month since I clicked “publish” here. As I mentioned before the break, I felt in my heart that a hiatus was necessary. In these weeks, I’ve traveled to Florida to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday, took a trip to small town Alabama to visit my parents and their new chickens, and moved just a few miles away to a new apartment. One thing I didn’t do? Write.
That’s right. Not one single word. I didn’t take even one look at my finished manuscript. I made no headway on a developing plot for my next book. I had no word-count deadlines, no chapters to submit for critique, no first/second/or third drafts to review.
And, I’m okay with it.
As I prepare to come out of hiatus and back into a regular writing routine, I’m reflective of this time “off.” A lot of good, I feel, has come out of this break.
- I took time to mull. I’m not good at letting new ideas sit and permeate in my head. I usually dump words onto the page as soon as they come to me (true pantster-style) without much regard for how it will work in the overall story. This hiatus has allowed characters to come into focus in their own time. I actually see more of the developing story. It’s good.
- I miss writing. Writing had become a chore I willed myself to begrudgingly do. I think this had a lot to do with the recent agent rejection I experienced after thoroughly making edits/rewrites that she had suggested, only to find out she never read them before her polite “no thank you”. After a month of no writing, I miss it. There’s a refreshed sense of something missing. I’m a writer who needs to write. I’m thankful to feel that again.
- I’ve focused outward. Us writers are naturally introspective, I’d say. Easy to get lost in considering how our own writing, worlds, feelings are going. This hiatus has allowed me to focus on some friends (some authors, some not) and really pay attention. I’ve fostered some friendships, bonded over some challenges, and strengthened ongoing relationships.
- I better connected with the other me’s. When you spend so much of your day writing, platform building, reading about writing, researching your next story, and planning for conferences, it’s hard to remember your other roles. I’ve connected with my other me’s — wife, mom, daughter, friend, aunt, home cook, wannabe world traveler, etc.
No doubt this hiatus has helped in many ways. Good for the soul.
However, there are also a few ways I can see a month-long hiatus hurts, too. Can you relate to these challenges I’m noticing coming out of a planned break?
- My muscles have atrophied. Going with the notion that ab object in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest…my creative muscles have lost some of their trained agility and built-up stamina. Like getting back on a bike, the first several rotations of the pedals will be the hardest before I settle back into coasting.
- Part of me doesn’t want to start back. Writing is so hard, guys. It’s been nice to have my evenings back. To not feel guilty when I didn’t reach a goal. To say “yes” to my family more often. To not worry about what others think, if the next agent will work out, or if the next book will take two and a half years like the first. It’s easier not to write. Just like retraining my creative muscles, I have to remind my heart and mind why it is I do this. Not for the accolades or success, but because God puts stories in my heart that he wants me to tell.
Ultimately, it is the calling to write that will get me back on track. It’s the reason that I’m writing this post and will write again on Thursday…and every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll write in the evenings and on weekends when my family schedule allows. I will submit chapters to my critique partners because I need their input to make my writing better. I’ll work hard to prepare to pitch my first book to another round of agents and editors at next month’s ACFW Conference in Nashville. And I will trust that God’s still in charge and has good things planned for me.
This hiatus is over.
How Hiatus Helps and Hurts. Reflections from an author coming
off a month-long writing break. — TWEET THIS!