It’s been a funny old week. Mostly, I’ve been riding a wave of joy that both my first drafts are completed and ready for the excitement of editing and shaping my story, which is always my favourite part of writing in any form. It’s also been the first time in nearly three months that I haven’t set myself any writing targets whatsoever, and I have to admit I’ve missed them! Of course, the reason why none were set is because they achieved what they set out to achieve, and that the project goals they applied to have been completed now, but it has still left a strangely bereft feeling when I’ve been trying to decide what I should focus on next. Should I crack on with the editing? Should I start something entirely new? Should I take myself away for a little nap and a mince pie? All very important questions in a time when no other major decisions are being made anywhere else in the world…
Firstly, I should say that there were jobs to do last week and strong, positive progress has been made with some of the more “complete” packages in my writing portfolio. Emails have been flying, introductions have been made and post-production has been reopened on one of my short films to hopefully, and excitingly, fix issues that could hopefully see it hit the festival circuits soon. There is still work to be done in all of these areas, and the end is not even established yet, let alone in sight, but small steps where they can be taken help to keep that positive forward drive going and accumulate into a much easier process when the bigger steps do, eventually, come along.
When it comes to the projects I have been recently writing, however, I decided to take a much more hands-off approach with them this week, which I believe is an important step in the writing process for a number of reasons. From a creative point of view, taking a break from your projects after completing a first draft gives you the distance that you need to be able to objectively see what works in your story and what doesn’t. I only revisited the novel to briefly update my character/locations list this week, and already I have noticed continuity flaws and gaps in the opening that will need to be revisited once the edit begins proper. By leaving it for longer again, more of those flaws start to come to the surface for you to be able to spot them and remove/adapt them. Begin that process too early and you run the risk of being too attached to scenes that don’t need to be in the story, which ultimately means you don’t come out with the best script at the end of it.
Time away is also important for the benefit of your own mental health, too. As a writer, your brain is in constant use and takes an unrelenting battering as you try and conjure not only new ideas but also interesting ways of conveying those ideas for others to read/see/hear. Creativity works your mind so hard as a writer that I think it is vitally important to take meaningful time away from that arena when you can to let it recover and engage with the real world beyond the one that you are making. Christmas is an ideal time to take such a break, and while there is a part of me that is a little conflicted about starting the festivities too early, the end of these first drafts has provided a natural break to the writing rhythm, and to gear up for anything else too major would create a stop-start, jerky momentum which won’t achieve much one way or the other. As I said previously, there are some other bits and pieces I can be looking at now in a relaxed manner so that I am still keeping my oar in, but otherwise I’m going to enjoy this recharging period to be ready for another concerted effort in the New Year. I’ve spent some wonderful time with my family and friends these last few days which has been a great, relaxing treat that I will no doubt carry on into my favourite time of the year and the festivities to come!
With that being said, next week will be the last entry into The Writing Journal of 2018 before I take my Christmas holiday proper. In it, I’ll look back on what has been a really challenging year, but also the most optimistic and brightest year of my writing career thus far. I may also bring hats, but that’s very much tbc.