Monday, May 21, 2012

The Writer's Refresh Button - Guest Post by Reina Laaman

The delightful writer Reina Laaman has very kindly agreed to guest post on my blog. We're thrilled to have you, Rain! Check out her blog at Comments welcome!
The Writer’s Refresh Button
When I am drafting a novel, I experience this weird adrenaline rush that lasts about a month. I call it Writer’s Craze or Draft Fever or There’s Something Wrong With Me. What happens is I can go to bed late and get up really early and not run out of energy.
It’s pretty cool.
But then Normalness kicks back in. And as many of you know, Normalness wears steel-toed boots. It hurts. The Draft Fever dissipates and my progress starts to lag. So now I’ve got to finish the story or rewrite a draft or edit a manuscript and I don’t have There’s Something Wrong With Me to help. Once I reach this lagging period, writing isn’t as fun or aerodynamic anymore. But I’ve discovered something that helps.
Take a day off. At least once a week, but probably not more. (Because once you get out of your writing groove, it’s hard to fall back in. That’s a different topic.)
Maybe a writer’s Sabbath is totally obvious to you and you’re like, Duh. Or maybe you have 12-hour shifts at work and you can’t write during one or two or three or four or five days of the week. So then you want to cram in as much writing as possible on the days you can. That’s great!
However, some of us have the opportunity to write every day. And so we just keep forcing it, and just keep forcing it, because it seems like a HUGE delay to take a break. Like the whole universe will stop and glare at us because we’re not writing.
Well, let me tell you a story. While writing my last draft—after the Writer’s Craze ended—I was determined to write every single day. As the weeks wore on, my writing kept trickling out slower and slower. Finally I took a day off. I returned to my story the day after, and it was like a waterfall session. (Meaning the writing came a lot freer again.) During the dormant period, my brain had time to regenerate and think of new ideas.
I realized that if I just rested one day a week, I could usually write more on the other days. After all, God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. He knew what He was doing.
Here are some ideas of things to do on your day off:
1.     Read. Try a new genre. Like biographies or poetry or comic books. Writers aren’t like cars that use the same sort of fuel every time. We need a different kind of firepower once in a while. 
2.     Go sky diving. That will restore your adrenaline rush. But I guess some other form of exercise would do just as well. Like gardening.  
3.     Do some research on pillowcases—or something you’re interested in. Could be for the story you’re writing now or the next one.
4.     Blog. Now is a good time to catch up and not feel like you should be working on your story instead.  =)
5.     Sit on the sidewalk and watch people with binoculars. Okay, maybe without the binoculars. And try not to be creepy about it. But we write about people, so we have to know how they behave.
6.     Clean and reorganize your work space. Draw smiley faces around your desk. (That’s optional.) 
Anyway, to recap. I don’t know if you need to take a break during the adrenaline stage. I think I’d explode if I tried. But once your writing starts to drag, try taking a break and see if it helps you.
So, other ideas on how to hit your metaphorical “refresh” button? What would you like to do on your day off?


  1. So good. Such a great reminder ... that we need to do all of this! I've actually taken a week off from writing (though I did keep a journal near by for ideas). Taking a week off is also a great way to get your behind in gear and get a project finished, so that vacation is truly enjoyable.

  2. Sometimes my life gets too stressful for my poor little brain to keep up. My writing comes to a complete halt because my brain is working so hard to sort out my real life that my fictional world gets lost. This is very sad, and hard for me to deal with.

    So a few years ago I discovered something that works well for me. I take a notebook or laptop to a public place (Barnes and Nobel, park, national monument) and watch people. (See #5 above. =)) After a bit of relaxing, I open my laptop and start writing about the people I see. I describe them in detail. Then I try finding one sentence that gives the feel of them. Then I imagine what they're doing here. What's their story? I make up lives and problems for them, and write short stories-- or little clips-- about them right there. (If only they knew!)

    This usually gets my writing brain back in gear.

    Thank you for your ideas!