A Break in Between Books?
So you’ve published the book you’ve been living and breathing for the longest while. Congratulations on this great achievement. Now what comes after that? Your most likely answer is, you’re working on the next book. No one is surprised or expects any less of you. For most authors, writing is a lifelong commitment. Once you write and publish a book, it’s just the beginning and not the end. As you love to write, so do you love to have people read your work. And the only way this can happen is by continuing to write.
The question is, do you take a well-deserved break after the last book you’ve worked on is published or do you press on? Some authors may take a break while others may press on. There is no correct or incorrect answer here. Everyone has to act according to his or her own set of circumstances. There is no fixed formula to go by.
What is constantly being grilled into authors is sticking to a daily writing quota if you want to succeed in this field. The writing gurus will tell you that persistence is what pays off in this business, so there can be no slacking of pace if you’re serious about getting anywhere. There is no denying the truth of such advice. A book doesn’t write itself. It takes discipline and many long, lonely hours of work.
But writing and publishing a book comes at a great cost and I’m not talking finances, even though for self-published authors, it can certainly be so. I’m talking about the physical and emotional toll the whole process takes on you. It’s something I’ve experienced firsthand. Authors are human beings first and foremost and like everyone else, are influenced by the circadian rhythms of their bodies and susceptible to all sorts of stimuli. There will be fluctuations in their rhythms on any given day.
Setting unrealistic goals for writing puts a lot of pressure on our bodies. It’s a common-sense fact that writing under any type of duress ends up being counterproductive to creativity and productivity. In her blog entitled, Paralysis for creators: Put too much pressure on yourself? Susan Mumford says, “…when your focus is a completed masterpiece or a specific outcome by X time, then the pressure applied to yourself can greatly inhibit your creativity. While there’s certainly benefit to goal setting, when it comes to creative endeavors, enjoying the journey and being open to taking unexpected directions can be vital to the end result.”
Isn’t that the truth? Rigidity in routine can be stressful and detrimental to the craft of writing. I’m also learning this firsthand. When you’re fixated on the end result and are not enjoying the journey, you write as if by rote and there is no joy in that. That’s why I think it’s very important to take that break in between books to rejuvenate mind and body so that writing doesn’t become a chore but remains something you love doing. You have to find your own rhythm and routine that enables you to put in the requisite amount of writing without compromising on these qualities.
This is something I have to keep reminding myself of. After my book, The Moon of Masarrah, came out in June, I found myself diving right into the second book. I have a tendency to be like a dog with a bone sometimes, relentless and all-consuming in my approach when it comes to writing. Needless to say, I found myself suffering from exhaustion. Too much writing, too little sleep and too much expectations of myself. I had to take a serious step back and re-examine my priorities.
I’m not in the writing game for name, fame or riches. These things would be icing on the cake of course, but I write primarily because I love to write and because it brings me a sense of accomplishment. I don’t ever want to lose sight of this fact because I would be in for a great many disappointments if I did. As the famous Stephen King says, “You should write because it brings you happiness and fulfilment…. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”
So how do you find a rhythm and routine that works for you and which won’t compromise your creativity and productivity? Easier said than done! You know yourself better than anyone else. You should know when you’re putting too much pressure on yourself or when you’re procrastinating too much. You have to be able to find that balance between the two. Like I said, there’s no fixed formula to go by. For me, it’s still a work in progress!