Home Forums General Writing Discussions What do ya'll think about taking breaks?

This topic contains 23 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Gabrielle 2 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #38058

    Gabrielle
    @winter-rose
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1233

    Wassup Keepers!

    I’ve got a slight dilemma. I finished the first draft of Rook (My WIP), and am trying to figure out what to do next. I hear some authors take a month off from their work to gain some perspective and I think that’s a grand idea. I’d planed to do something of the sort.

    But it’s not working out so well. See, I already released the first three chapters to my Alpha, and if I keep the rest to myself for a month, well, she wouldn’t be thrilled, and I don’t want to be mean after I quit partway through the last project and left her hanging.

    The book is also a mess and in need of some major TLC. I don’t want to leave it be when I know it needs some plot changes.

    Last but not leastly, I’ve never had a book read all the way through by someone else. I feel like it’s time for me to take that step, but I can’t do that if the book isn’t ready (Logic, right?).

    So I’m a bit conflicted. What do you all do? Do you guys take time off to gain perspective? If so, how long? What are the benefits/costs?

    Lemme tag some peeps. @daeus @kate-flournoy @dragon-snapper @jess @jane-maree @graciegirl @ethryndal @everyone else.

    #38061

    Louise Fowler
    @perfectfifths
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 478

    @winter-rose Taking a break is a good idea. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a month, but you should definitely have some time between finishing the first draft and beginning to edit/proofread/rewrite (if you leave it too long, though, that’s procrastinating, and you should make yourself do it. Personal experience 😉 )

    As for your dilemma with your Alpha, I don’t see why you can’t send it to her in the meantime. She may be able to give you some insight on how to fix plotholes and what have you. It’s very helpful to have someone who reads it in every stage, to bounce ideas off each other and to point out plotholes or inconsistencies you haven’t noticed. They’ll also keep you accountable, because if they’re enjoying it, you can give them permission to nag (that’s what my friend and I do all the time, even for things not related to writing 😉 )

    #38063

    Brandon Miller
    @brandon-miller
    • Rank: Charismatic Rebel
    • Total Posts: 40

    ‘Sup?

    Okay, so here’s my opinion on taking some time off from a novel after you finish it.
    WAIT UP.
    FINISH IT? YOU FINISHED YOUR FIRST NOVEL! *alltheconfettiandcheersandlotsandlotsofcake* You get the prize.
    Okay, now for the helpful (and also important) stuff. My opinion on breaks (just an opinion, but a common and heavily-tested one) YOU MUST DO THEM. All of them. Set you manuscript down and FORGET ABOUT IT. Forever.
    Or at least for a month. (I shoot for at least three.) The longer you wait, the more these two things will happen:
    You will gain perspective. The less and less the story becomes your baby, the less and less it will become something you can’t edit.
    Also, you will become a better writer. Assuming you keep writing during this time, you can only continue to grow as a writer and become someone more capable to handle the upcoming edit.

    But now as for your question, about beta readers and them wanting stuff and being impatient (albeit in a totally understandable way). Here are my thoughts:
    I KNOW RIGHT!?!?!
    I am so stuck in this situation now. My current novels that I have any interest in anyone reading are in pieces, and I don’t know how to just share them and ask for critiques because they make no sense cover to cover.
    So basically, I feel you. We’re in the same boat (and I think it’s sinking.) Here are some thoughts. (Not answers, just thoughts.)
    – It’s YOUR story. You are the one who spent hours and days and weeks and months working on it, and so you should do what is best for it. If that means that your friend has to wait to read it, that will just give them time to write their own story. Then maybe you can swap critiques.
    – That being said, beta readers are BETA readers. So your story doesn’t have to be in one piece for them to read it. At all. They’re there to help your story grow, not to read a finished project and pat you on the shoulder and tell you that they liked it. So if it’s at a stage where you’re preparing for an edit, just give it to them. Let them read it while you’re taking a break from it, and when they’re done combine your notes with theirs and you’ll have double the editing power. (Cool, right?) Don’t wait until your story is ‘ready’ to share it, or it will never be ready.
    Ever.

    So there’s that. My two (or twenty-nine) cents worth. Hope it helps.
    (And more congrats because yay, finishing novels is SWEET!)

    #38068

    Jane Maree
    @jane-maree
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 733

    @winter-rose I’m kinda busy and I didn’t bother to read the previous comments so hopefully I’m not repeating them too much. XD But I’ve found breaks incredibly helpful. You finish a novel. You set it aside. You either take a break from writing, or work on something new that you’re inspired about (whichever you prefer). This helps avoid total crash-down – and that DOES happen. I know that after NaNoWriMo last year and completing a 90k novel in half a month, if I had any grand plans for editing straight away, they were crushed. I was tired and not hungry and really just plain exhausted for weeks after I finished the novel. I’d been working so hard that I wasn’t looking after myself and wasn’t giving myself what my body needed to keep going.
    That’s an extreme case of course. Mostly it’s more a danger of mental crash-down. And it can take ages to recover from that. So I HUGELY recommend breaks. Just let yourself breathe a little bit.

    Alpha readers. I’ve found that alpha readers are actually incredibly thoughtful and understanding. If you explain to her that you’re taking a writing break, I’m sure they’ll understand and be happy to wait. (and if they’re not thoughtful or understanding, then maybe you should better alpha reader. XP) Or, if you’re willing, you could even just give the entirety of your novel to your alpha right as it is now. Tell her that it’s rough, but it’s the alternative from leaving her hanging for a month or so. Because if she’s an alpha reader, that implies that she’s going to be the person who sees the messiest draft. If you want to do it this way, then you can just pass it off out of your hands and just push it aside from your attention and just relax.

    My personal pattern is basically this: I write the book (usually in about one month), I put it down and set it aside and move on to another project. I write/plot/brainstorm that (depending on what stage I’m at with it already), then after a few weeks, I’ll go back to the original project and read it through and pick up the major things I need to fix, and then gradually break it down from there making my edits smaller and smaller. By the time I’ve done the chapter-by-chapter edit, I then quickly check for typos and then give it to my alphas and let them deal with it while I take another break and maybe return to project B for a while.

    #38069

    Jess
    @jess
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 575

    @winter-rose I think breaks are great. A break for a month or so has worked for me to get a new perspective on things. It really helps to leave something alone for a little while because you can start afresh. But, this:

    Don’t wait until your story is ‘ready’ to share it, or it will never be ready.

    As Brandon said, Alpha and beta readers are there to help your story, and find plot problems and the like. It’s a bit scary sending things off to other people to read because it’s your precious that you’ve slaved away on. If there are some really really glaring things, come back to those and give those a quick fix if you can before sending it off, but don’t wait until the story is perfect. And yayayayay on finishing a book!!! 😀

    #38074

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3842

    @winter-rose Breaks aren’t absolutely necessary, but they are really helpful. If you feel like your work is a sloppy mess, it’s more likely that you need a break from it. But I don’t think that means you have to keep it from your alpha reader. What you might do is just let her read it and give you her thoughts, but don’t look at her thoughts until you think you’ve had a long enough break. Then when you come back, read through your novel and see what you think needs fixed and read through her comments and see what she thinks needs fixed. That’s one suggestion.

    #38075

    Dragon Snapper
    @dragon-snapper
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 2598

    @winter-rose No. Don’t do it. Do not take a break.
    Here’s my logic, cause I know I’m going against practically every person’s opinion in the world about taking breaks in writing.
    Personally, when I finished my novel, I was like ‘yeah, I’ll take a break’, so I did. Ouch. I will never ever do that again. It broke me. Yeah. I wasn’t able to write something legitimate for six months, and even then, I was in writer’s block. I still am, but I force myself to write. The break in schedule of writing, or just a break from writing really hurt me. In that time. In the month break I had, I didn’t do anything. No editing or anything. Nada.
    Secondly, If you’re not ready to share it, then maybe you could go ahead and just start from the beginning in reading it to just yourself. If you’re thinking you want to have a fresh view of it, you probably haven’t read the beginning of your book in a while anyway, and by the time you get to then end of your book in your reading, your break will have been reading the first half. Does that make any sense?
    So basically, I took a break when I finished mine, and the costs of that were dire. The benefits were few, since it had been so long since I’d read the beginning of my book anyway. Not to mention, I wasn’t able to gain perspective.

    ….

    That sounded really pessimistic.

    #38076

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3842

    I half agree with you @dragon-snapper. If you work on a new project during your break, I think it’s fine though.

    #38079

    Hope Ann
    @hope
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1094

    @winter-rose Breaks? What are those? Who has time for breaks? XD

    I do leave a project for a little bit when I’m done with it, but I never actually take a break from writing because I’ve several projects going at a time. To get a good perspective on a manuscript, yes… taking a break for a few weeks or months (I’ve heard months is good but have never had time to do it myself) and then coming back and reading the novel through in a few days or a week can help you see things you’ve not noticed before. But I’d generally keep working on another project or outlining or editing or doing something on something else while you wait.

    (On another note, reading your novel through in a few sittings, like you’d read a normal novel, can be very helpful when it comes to seeing how it flows as a big picture, what things are repeated, etc.)

    #38081

    Dragon Snapper
    @dragon-snapper
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 2598

    @daeus Yes. That’s what I failed to do. As long as you’re working on something, you should be okay. @winter-rose
    Don’t be like Dragon Snapper. Don’t not write for more than a few days. Dragon Snapper is being nice and giving you a great example of what not to do.

    #38084

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3842

    @dragon-snapper Okay, well, you can be part of the first round if you think that would be best.

    Go ahead and send me the manuscript right away.

    #38088

    Louise Fowler
    @perfectfifths
    • Rank: Knight in Shining Armor
    • Total Posts: 478

    @dragon-snapper @winter-rose Oh yeah, whatever you do, keep working on other projects! If you get out of your writing groove, it can be very hard to get back in. I probably should have clarified before, but by taking a break, I meant taking a break from that particular project, let it brew for a while, and work on something else you may have had in mind, or had taken a previous break from and are ready to get back to. I have about 4 or 5 projects writing right now, each one in different stages, so if I don’t feel like working on this one, I’ll work on that one 🙂

    #38093

    Kate Flournoy
    @kate-flournoy
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3786

    *cringes at all the beautiful sensible comments and retreats inside her dragonish shell*

    @winter-rose umm… unfortunately the longest break I’ve ever taken, with all eight* novels I’ve finished, is… um… one night.
    Literally. One night between novels and then I can’t wait any longer. I probably should take longer breaks… don’t kill me guys… I try…

    I have been realizing the value of not excluding your surroundings or neglecting your LIFE for your writing, though. Other interests and such. Life and a passion for it are what fuels us, after all. If we don’t refuel often enough, we’re going to burn out, possibly even explode. So… yes. Breaks are good. Even with demanding beta-readers; there’s no use wearing yourself to a frazzle or neglecting your own mental health, because that takes a bad situation and makes it worse.

    So… breaks. Mm-hm. Do the thing. *nods*

    *DO NOT BE DECEIVED; ALL BUT FOUR ARE JUNK. And only two are ever getting published.

    #38098

    Gabrielle
    @winter-rose
    • Rank: Eccentric Mentor
    • Total Posts: 1233

    @daeus @dragon-snapper @jess @brandon-miller @jane-maree @perfectfifths @hope @kate-flournoy

    *Tries to absorb everyone’s advice*

    First off, thanks ya’ll. Everything you’ve said is helpful.

    I agree that if you do take breaks, that you should work on other projects.

    I also appreciate the advice on not waiting till your novel is ready before sharing, though my very soul may recoil at those words. XD However, since this book is sorta a hybrid between my first and second draft, (I edited a few chapters before finishing it) I truly can’t give my alpha all of it cause I don’t share my raw, first drafts. Pretty much ever. It’s just how I work.

    After all this discussion, I’ve decided to take some sort of break. My next question is, what consists of a break for you all? Do you set down the manuscript and refuse to think about it? Do you keep yourself from world building, plotting, character sketches and everything?

    You see, I’ve backed myself into a weird corner. I wrote my book without finishing the world building, and have a few plot and character arc stuff that I need to work on. I might be able to leave the manuscript itself to work on it’s plot and such, but would that give me enough of a perspective?

    And if I do take time off from that book, the next project I’d likely work on is its sequel, so it would be placed in that world with some of the same characters.

    Another word about breaks…What do you think about creating a second draft before taking a break? I have a few plot problems and character arc stuff I want to fix now so that when I take a break I’ll have a clear view of any other problems that may arise from the break.
    Thanks again guys!

    Also Kate, love the insight even if you don’t take breaks. XD

    #38100

    Daeus
    @daeus
    • Rank: Chosen One
    • Total Posts: 3842

    @winter-rose It’s fine to wait for the second draft before you take a break. Probably best actually.

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