Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Time Out

When you've been working on a project for a long time, it can feel very weird when you click on Save for the last time and close the file and think, There, it's done. (Well, it never is, is it? But it's done until the next revision, or maybe when you work on it with the editor.) What next? A new book? A short story? A few poems perhaps? One part of your brain is urging you to keep the momentum going, get into something new, keep those words coming.

But this is the time you need to back away and go somewhere else, physically and mentally. Physically because if you're near your computer or your writing space, you'll start to feel guilty. Hey, I have a couple of hours spare today. I should go write something. I'm a writer, aren't I? And mentally because that book is still clinging to the inside bits of your brain like a big cobweb and it won't really let you focus properly on anything else.

My favourite place to go after a draft is finished is the movies. I love to let someone else's story and hard work sweep me away into another world. Watching a DVD at home is not the same. I'm still close enough to the laptop to start feeling like I should be writing, not wasting time on a movie. But at the movie theatre, I'm in front of the big screen, surrounded by sound, and I can just give it all up and dive into the story. I can't get up and wander away (I just paid to be here!) so I can freely indulge.

One place I've discovered is not a good excursion option is a large bookshop. By the time I've wandered around for a while, the sheer number of books on the shelves (they all got published, so there'll be no room left for mine) becomes mind-numbing and sometimes depressing. Even a nice strong coffee doesn't dispel the gloom. No, it's the movies for me. And this week I'm leaning towards Pride and Glory or The Changeling. It'll depend on my mood...

5 comments:

Katherine Battersby said...

Ah Sherryl, I really could have done with this post a week ago! I've been grappling with the same issue after finishing the first draft of a new novel, and have been struggling with guilt and the pressure to jump straight back into something else. You are so right - doing anything at home doesn't work. I think going to the movies sounds perfect. Might see you there :)

Sherryl said...

Go for it. Don't forget the popcorn (or if you're like me, your glasses!).

Sheryl Gwyther said...

You've hit the old proverbial nail, Sherryl. But at least if you've just finished something, there's that sense of achievement.
It's much worse if you're in the middle of a story and it's like a mountain and you want to go around it because you don't think you'll make it over the top in one sane piece. Sigh.
Well, I'm heading off to the beach for a week - no computer tagging along like usual, altho I might take a notebook. I'm hoping my sanity is saved.
Hope to see you in Brissie one day!

Kristi Holl said...

It continues to amaze me when you say something that I knew deep down, but hadn't really pinpointed. NOW I know why a reward of a home DVD or browsing in Border's makes me feel worse instead of better. You hit it exactly--you're too near the computer in one case, and you're comparing your own writing to bestsellers in the other case. No more! Just wish I could find more movies in the theater that appealed to me. Occasionally there will be three or four, but more often nothing appeals. Time for Plan B then, I guess. 8-)
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog

Sherryl said...

Sheryl - did you find your notebook and pen got you over the mountain?

Kristi - what is Plan B? I'm intrigued...