As writers we’re often working on one or more big projects: a first draft of a book, editing a manuscript into a book, launching a book, working on another first draft for a book… One thing we don’t seem to talk about is what to do in the time between those big projects.
Myself, I usually want to roll straight into the next one, finish what I’m working on and roll into the next big thing. Occasionally I even try to do that, even though I know it’s a mistake.
We writers have lots of reasons for the stuff we work on, and we put a lot of resources (physical, mental, time, and financial) into those big projects. We might want to plow straight into that next big thing, but there are reasons to give it a little time and space.
The ‘managery stuff’ in-between
Chances are there are some little things that need to be handled between projects. It’s a good idea to take some time to make sure the bills are paid; put away the notes, pieces, and what-evers from that last project (you’ll need some space for the next one); shovel out those coffee cups/soda cans/water bottles that seem to accumulate (and then go get new ones!); pick up the other physical supplies you need; communicate with people (you know… your agent, your spouse (maybe even your kids), that contractor who still hasn’t fixed that leak…).
There are lots of little things that need to be done. If you take time between projects to make sure they’re taken care of it helps cut down on nasty surprises while you’re working on the next one.
I already mentioned getting more soda/coffee/whatever and more office supplies, but you have other resources and reserves that need to be restocked.
Catch up on some sleep.
Read a book. (And not one you’re using for research…)
Maybe you should get a little exercise and sunlight…
We have physical (as in body) and mental resources that need to be recharge from time to time. As much as we might not want to admit it; some exercise, a couple of nights sleep, a little non-work social interaction, and/or some other physical and mental activities away from the writing desk will help us get ready for that next big push.
You don’t want to be away for too long (your skills can atrophy with non-use) but running from big project to big project without rest can be just as damaging (and worse, you could be underperforming and be too exhausted to realize it…).
Give yourself a little time to recover. To borrow from (and edit for language) the advice of an old Staff Sargent, “Grab a drink, have some fun, get in trouble somewhere else for a while!”
Plan and prepare
Chances are you learned something in that last big project. Take a little time to record and understand what you learned. And while you’re at it, put together some plans and figure out what you need for that next big push.
Are there people you need to talk to?
Is there research you need to do (that you know about)?
Does the new project differ from the last one in ways that change your approach to the project (again, any you know about…)?
Take some time at the end of the last project to make sure things are in place before you start the next one. You know more about the process and about yourself than you did when you started the last one. Use that information to help you in the gear-up process for the next one
Whatever you do, don’t give up!
Whatever you do, come back for the next one dear reader. Don’t give up. Don’t surrender. Take your time between projects to analyze what you’ve learned, recharge your resources, get things in place for the next push, and maybe even spend a little time with your loved ones (remember them?); then, come back and get started on that next big project.
If you’re a writer, you’re doing this at least in part out of love. You won’t be happy if you don’t.
That’s it for this one dear reader. If you’re still climbing that mountain good luck in the climb. If you’ve finished the climb grab a little rest. And, I’ll see you next post!