This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
By Anna Bell
With my baby due any day now, I’ve officially put myself on maternity leave. When I had a day job, I relished my days off and wouldn't give work another thought. Now, with writing as my full-time occupation, I’m having trouble letting go. It made me wonder, how long do writers usually take off between books?
I was lucky enough to reach a natural stopping point in my writing. My latest book Millie and the American Proposal was at the stage where it could be sent away to be line edited, and I had two weeks until my due date. There was no point in starting anything new, and it meant that I could pick up with the post line edit when I’m ready (whenever that may be).
But the problem with being a writer is that you can’t just turn off the writing. First, I’ve got characters whispering to me, future book plots opening themselves up and random ideas for books starting to germinate. Second, I’ve got to maintain my author platform. Blogs need to be written and social media has to be updated. Often it doesn’t take up too much time, but it still keeps you imbedded in the world of writing, so it isn’t like you have a clean break from it.If I wasn’t on self-enforced leave, I would probably have taken a week or so off writing and then jumped back on the writing wagon, eager to start the next project. But actually, I think that this time away from writing is a good thing. This year I’ve written three novels, as well as reworking Don’t Tell the Groom for print publication. I think my brain needs a rest; my characters need time to breathe and I need to get a bit of perspective on what I’ve written. The problem with writing novels in such close proximity is sometimes not allowing enough time for your ideas to stew and grow.
But if I wasn’t having a baby and didn't have to take leave, I don’t think I would have done. Which brings me to the question: Do you need time to allow your brain to recover after finishing a manuscript – or is it best to jump straight back into it?
I usually give myself a week off between novels – enough time to sort out the mess my house has become since I started writing a book. Anything more than a week and it feels a bit wrong; I start to feel guilty and like I’m slacking off. Writing is a lot about habit for me, and I’m worried that if I take too much time off, it’ll be difficult to get back into the routine again. But now that I’m on my break, I’m wondering if a week is too little time. Maybe I’d be more productive if I took a longer break between novels and would return more refreshed?
I’m hoping that when I get back to my desk, I’ll be fresh (or as fresh as you can be with a new baby), and have that eager beaver need to get writing again. I’d be interested to know how much time authors and aspiring authors take in between projects. Do you need space to let your ideas form – or do you think it’s better to keep going whilst you’re in the writing groove?