Why a Writing Hiatus Is So Painful

I’m taking a writing hiatus. This would be due to the importance of my studies for my final year of my undergraduate anyway – but it’s also due to another reason. I’ve hit a massive writing slump.

I should have expected it, what with my dissertation taking up most of my non-contact time; but where I’d planned to query in January February, I know WTCB has instead to go through a massive upheaval, and I don’t know where to start.

I’m afraid. Afraid of tearing it to pieces and gluing those pieces onto a new board. Afraid of the emotional and mental work I’ll have to do to recover it. Afraid of the time I’ll lose, and afraid of being back at square one.

Yet, I am back at square one with most of my novels. Let me count them – five. I think. Five I like in need of editing beyond a first or second draft. It took me so long to get to a queryable stage with one novel (and that turned out to be false hope), how long will it take with a second novel?

So, for now, before I drive myself crazy, I’m taking a writing break.

The thing is, I don’t want to have to stop writing. I find it incredibly therapeutic, even when characters and scenes frustrate me. However, I want to be able to look back on my work and feel proud, the way I would having finished a first draft.

But I’m not. Each book I read and the more research I do, the less confident I feel in my own work and my own style. I’ll never be as good as these, says one voice in my mind. Another chimes in, You call this tension? Your characters resolve debates as readily as infants change moods. The chances of me ever being successful are so slim, and part of me would give up were it not for the fact that I don’t want to throw away all the effort and characters and ideas I’ve had for so long. What a waste that would be.

I love Phillip and Aidelle’s world, and I definitely want to at least self-publish the almanac that I have detailing the timeframe of the three epochs featured in the Time, Stopped Trilogy, but I can’t deal with having poor writing at the moment. I think, were it not for my endlessly encouraging CP, Lillian M Woodall, I would’ve trunked the novel by now. Even the Steampunk world of Alexander and Cathy inspires me, but it’s not viable for me to meet them every night. By the time I’ve finished revising for the day, rested my mind, had dinner and settled in for the evening, I’ve been far too tired to concentrate on my editing.

Yes, it hurts. A writer should never have to abandon their families and their stories pressing through their mind – but then, I wonder if the resulting craft will even be worth it. I give so much to my writing, and sometimes I wonder if that’s too much…even though it’s not been enough.

That’s why a writing hiatus is so painful. It is is full of possibilities whilst drowning them with the silence. It’s putting the writer first at the expense of the characters. It’s breaking from the daily visits into the centre of one’s mind.

And, yet, I always wonder if it’s worth it.

3 thoughts on “Why a Writing Hiatus Is So Painful

  1. You’ve summed up the thoughts of the writer…
    I know the reason I don’t read as much as I ought is to do with my fear of the breach between published writing and my raw unpublished scribblings. Though really when everything is taken into account, the biggest difference is being in the right place at the right time.

    Another argument is that if you can’t give your characters your whole concentration, it’s fairer to them to leave them to it. Anticipation of the pride I’ll feel when I like something I’ve done is one of my biggest writing motivations, but without much encouragement that always needs a little time to regenerate. But it always does come back. When the pressure calms down after exams and you’re less weary, it’ll come back.

    As for square one, all manuscripts go through so many incarnations, some naturally more than others…
    (I’ve just outlined a huge restructuring to make Drina more of a romance, more commercial. But so many of the original core elements of the story no longer work. Yet if I take it in its literary direction in the vein of White Oleander, a title I’d really love to cite as a comp, I will have to lose many of the subplots in order to keep the wordcount controllable. It’s too big a decision, too hard a project for now. Shelved for the time being. I tell myself I need to grow more as a writer before I attempt something so ambitious as tearing it apart…again. I don’t know, maybe someday we could do it together, each make an action plan with lots of external opinions and brainstorming sessions, and remake our favourite characters in a way we’re really happy with.)
    Anyway, long comment. Hope the essays are going well at any rate. Power on 🙂 xxx

  2. Aww, don’t give up though! Taking breaks is definitely an okay thing to do *nods* Particularly when you’re busy with uni stuff too!! like that has to be the priority, right?! But dooooon’t quit (I mean, unless you really hate writing and never want to write again :P) Sometimes you have to come at things from a different angle. And have you thought about leaving this novel for a while and beginning a new project? I got stuck writing a 6-book fantasy series from when I was 15 to 18 and…I wanted to quit writing SO MANY TIMES. But I decided to give the series a break and went to write other things in other genres….and I grew so much as a writer and learnt different styles and really got to know WHAT and HOW I like to write. It was really good for me. Maybe it might help you?
    Either way, enjoy your writing break and don’t stress too much if you can help it. *gives encouraging chocolate*

    1. Oh yeah, I am taking a break from it [with what I’m editing at the moment], but at the same time, that is difficult because, as I’ve said in the post, the problem of how to deal with it is always on my mind. My mind ticks on…

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