Between books

I skipped my date with the SFNovelists blog last month because I was up to my neck in my NanoWrimo 2007 effort. (Also, Diana’s posting date usually coincides with mine, so I felt like it was covered.)

But this month I’m not writing, I’m not editing and I’m not even thinking about being an author. In fact, I’ve been gardening, weeding, doing stuff around the house and trying to catch up with a huge email backlog.

What am I supposed to be doing? Well, for starters, my publisher sent me a note last Friday asking for my thoughts on two final queries from the proof reader, and also on something for the back cover of the upcoming novel. The problem is, I discovered I’ve mentally filed this novel in the ‘Done’ section of my brain, and I’m having a lot of trouble getting at the file.

So, I’m just wondering whether other writers have this same problem? After all the slap, bang, wallop of getting a novel ready for publication, how long do you rest before starting on the next?

I went from 8 months of solid work on novel #4, to writing 50,000 words of novel #5 in November, with 4 or 5 days overlap. To call what I experienced burnout is understating things to a huge degree – even now, more than two weeks into December, I’m mentally drained to the extent that thinking about two minor edits is beyond me. Coming up with writing of any sort, really … during November I blogged daily, and I think I’ve only done so twice this month.

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  1. 1. Jim C. Hines

    Please explain this “rest” concept…

    In my case, because it takes me most of a year to get a book finished, I never feel like I have time to stop. I’ll usually take a break to work on a short fiction project or two, but that’s about as much of a break as I can give myself.

  2. 2. Simon Haynes

    My first took five years, on and off. The second took 18 months and the third took 8. This one was 6, but I’d already created plot ideas and characters for NanoWrimo 2006.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that I usually spend 10-12 months on each book, and my publisher likes to release one a year. I cheat the system by doing NanoWrimo at the same time I’m doing final edits and revisions on the previous one, but you can only burn a candle at both ends for so long.

  3. 3. S.C. Butler

    Wish I was getting quicker the way you seem to be. My first took four years, the second 18 months, but I’m back up to two years again for number three. I just hope this doesn’t be that number four will be back to four years.

  4. 4. Diana Pharaoh Francis

    I’m in the middle of edits on The Black Ship. They are really difficult–I’m doing more than I expected, and I think it will make huge improvements, but I’ve been having some of the same difficulties. My head has moved on. So coming back to this is difficult. Plus I’m with Jim . . . rest? What is this holy arc you speak of? Between the day job and the writing job, there ain’t no such thing. And I’m wondering if what I”m experiencing is really burnout. I’m hoping to rejuvinate, just as soon as the edits are done, hopefully in the next couple of days. One good editing technique . . . just cut everything and then you have fewer words to edit. Um. Well, it’s an editing technique anyway.

  5. 5. Kelly McCullough

    I tend to “rest” by pushing hard to get stuff in ahead of deadline and then writing spec books in gaps. So, between WebMage and Cybermancy I wrote a spec contemporary fantasy YA and between Cybermancy and CodeSpell I wrote a spec historical fantasy YA.

    On the getting quicker front, my novel writing time counted in months has been a big old curve from short to long and back again: 4, 8, 12, 14, 12, 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 5, 5 (projected). I’m hoping to get it down to 3 months per book and 3 books per year with the summer off.

  6. 6. Patrick McNamara

    I’ve found I tend to take a break from writing around December. It’s like I’ve just got no more ideas, although the business of Christmas tends to make it easier not to try writing.

  7. 7. Jonathan David

    I’m not a writer, but similarly, Once I have “finished” something, I hate go back to it.. On the other hand, most of the shorter term projects are part of something bigger, that I don’t know if I will ever be done with. In most cases though, I try to find a new “owner of the problem” so that its not _my_ problem to fix any more. As a chip designer though, I’m more in the role of the Editor – needing to get the other designers to fix something for the tapeout, And that comes down to the relationship, which is often how I get mentally “dragged” back into the project, because my friend is in need.
    Rest? Since I work at a J.O.B. I have to show up.. but I’ll occasionally coast on the minor stuff, until a “project” gels enough so that I know (and am excited about) what needs to be done next. If an earlier project has an emergency when I’m in this phase, I really don’t want to switch gears.
    jbd

Author Information

Simon Haynes

Simon is the author of the Hal Spacejock series, featuring intergalactic loser Hal and his junky sidekick, Clunk. His website contains a number of articles on writing and publishing, and he's also the programmer of several freeware apps including yBook, BookDB and yWriter. In his spare time(!) he helps to run Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Visit site.

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