I’m back again with another Author Health blog post. *inserts fanfare* Today is a kind of special post for me, since it’s officially December…the month after NaNoWriMo! (Or Meno-WriMo in my case.) Although I didn’t reach my goal of 50K this year (I wrote 28K), I’m glad with what I did get down on paper…literally.
And if you did win NaNo, or even if you didn’t, I know that December can be that weird month where you’re wondering if you want to keep writing or take a break or do something else. If you know what you’re doing this month, great! But if not, and you’re super conflicted (like me), let’s take a look at the 5 Steps to Recharge After A Major WIP and decide from there.
Are you ready?
Here we go…
1: Rest (Don’t write anything!!)
Yes, you heard that right. No matter how many words you’ve written last month, now is actually a really good time to take a break. Be that one or two days or a week, take a break. Writing is an exacting business. No matter how you wrote (easy as a breeze or shoveling horse feces, & c.) taking some time to rest is vital when recharging. I recommend checking out my previous Author Health post, 5 Self Care I Like to Do, for ideas to rest.
2: Read books (Ones that you love)
And of course, as writing is exhaling, we read to inhale. Reading books is a vital activity to supplement the creativity and energy you used up. What often happens for me is that I tend to avoid reading in the genre I’m writing, so I end up having to stick to books that are outside my commitment. This is good for when I’m writing, since I don’t get distracted with stories that are more polished than mine.
I can only go for so long without reading dark academia or fantasy or YA. So now that I’ve gotten the complete Harry Potter box set for my birthday, I’ll indulge in that and dense academia books I’ve been placing on hold. (Plus there is that thing where I have a stack of books overdue…)
3: Review Ideas (Re-reads and excavations)
And here comes the part I dearly love: reviewing ideas! This is where I drag out incomplete drafts and old ideas collecting dust bunnies on the shelf and excavate them. I might re-read the drafts or expand ideas I already have to see if they “spark joy”. I might even come up with completely new ideas that keep me awake at night.
Here, you shouldn’t let your logical side into the equation, meaning you stop thinking about deadlines or the order you were planning to move forward in your writing.
I personally struggle with this a lot, since I have this idea that I should have some kind of schedule in a year to finish certain WIPs by a certain month. But instead of mustering up strength to plow through a story that’s not clicking with you emotionally, you should write one that weighs on your heart. Because, you never know which work might be your last. (I know, I always lean into the morbid side of things.)
This is the stage you can let your logic decide things. After you find a project that speaks to your soul, stop a moment and figure out where you are in your life.
For example, last year’s NaNoWriMo, I made the mistake of listening to my heart more than my head. *shudders* I was applying to Ivy Leagues and similar schools, trying to balance my school load, getting a perfect ACT score, and applying for scholarships and financial aids. (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t get any of those things done!) In the midst of this, I felt like I really needed to write my story…you know, it was like I had to write it at that time or else I won’t be able to say the same things with the same intensity of feelings. Insane, right?
Well, my mental health took a nosedive, and I was a wreck. All because I didn’t properly examine my priorities.
Once I decided to place it on hold, though, it helped me realise that there was something more important I should be focusing my energy on.
Okay, that was kind of a long analogy, but it’s really important you stop for a moment and examine your priorities. You’ve already done a great job showing up to write last month. Do you have something you can only do right now other than writing? If yes, you shouldn’t be writing now. As much as it might pain you to do so (and believe me, I understand), take a break for writing. Finish whatever you need to do first, then come back to writing next year. That way, you can have a fresher start.
If no, then you are ready to take up your pen again! (Or keyboard.)
And that’s basically it. You can go back to the all-time adrenaline high of plotting and worldbuilding and sabotage. I’m still undecided on which project to tackle at the moment, but I know I’ll be drinking Earl Grey and hot chocolate like water while listening to heist music!
Because, in the end, that’s what authors do.
What did you think? Do you think you’ll be writing this month? Or not? What are some of the projects you’re interested in tackling? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!