I recently entered a writing contest. To prepare, I spent hours with critique groups to see how others read the manuscript. I polished my synopsis and chapters, and met again with my groups. I wrote madly to make the deadline and sent off the entry. By the time I put it in the mail, my carpal tunnels were acting up, I was sick of my story, and I wasn’t sure if it was any good or not. Time to step away from the keyboard.
Periodically, writers reach the point where it seems everything they write is crap (pardon the expression). It’s usually the case when we spend too much time on a manuscript—after a while, we can’t see the forest for the trees and we can’t look at it with fresh eyes, as a reader might. And other times, it’s a case of working harder not smarter; tweaking little things without the big picture in mind can be counterproductive. In my current situation, I think it’s a little of both.
My solution was to step away from the keyboard for a while. (Okay, not completely. I still check emails, etc. but I’m not working on creative writing.) I read more, worked on my volunteer commitments, got in some extra time with my husband. Then yesterday, I started thinking about the story again by meeting with a critique partner and showing her the entry that I thought was crap. (Her assessment: some of it did need more work, but it wasn’t all crap. Thank goodness!) Now I have some ideas of what needs to be fixed/revised, and I’ll let that percolate in my brain a little more. Then I’ll go back to the keyboard, probably next week.
This is a hard part of the process for me. I’m a linear thinking, get-things-done kind of person. So purposely NOT working on the writing feels wrong. But I have learned over the years that it is better to step away from the keyboard now and then. It’s part of being a writer.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What was your solution?