Sunday, August 12, 2012

Writers' Muscle Confusion

Writers write. We know that. Hopefully, we all do it.

At some point, though, you can't keep writing. Your story comes to an end. At that point, you have to transition to another part of the process (usually editing or plotting/outlining).

I am here to admit that I don't always make that transition smoothly.

The writing part is easy enough. At the risk of sounding immodest, I think I'm pretty good at it. However, between the times I write "The End" for one story and "Chapter 1" for another, I think I use my time inefficiently.

Usually, when I finish writing a book, I put it aside for about a month. That way, when I come back to edit it, it's not fresh in my mind and I have a better perspective on what needs to be cut. During that month of downtime, however, I need to get better at doing more things that help me improve as a writer. I've come up with a list of things I could (should) be doing during that time:

  • gathering ideas (including my rough version of outlining) for a future book
  • writing a short story
  • looking at an older story and seeing how I could update/revise it today
  • editing something else I had consigned to the e-dustbin
  • continuing work on a project I had put aside
  •  reading a book (or books) on the craft of writing

I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list. The key, I think, is to keep doing something that engages me as a writer so that those "muscles" stay strong. It's like a real workout routine in that you have to change it up every now and again so that your body keeps responding well. Trainers call it "muscle confusion." Maybe we as writers need our own version of that, and what better time than the downtime between projects?

Is there anything else I could add to my list? Do you have a writing downtime activity that works for you? Let me know.

Happy writing.