Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing's Winter


Have you ever experienced a sudden letdown on completion of a project and found it hard to work through it? For a writer that often happens after the work in progress (WIP) has been turned in to the publisher. All the stress of racing to meet the deadline is over, and you can finally relax . . . except that you’re overtaken by the uneasy feeling that you ought to immediately jump into the next project. After spending so many hours, days, weeks, and months in front of the computer focused on your characters and plot, it’s like a void rushes in and you suddenly feel at loose ends.

If you don’t know what the next project is going to be, there’s an uncomfortable feeling of restlessness and uncertainty about what you should work on next, but the certainty that you need to work on something! If the next project is set, your conscience constantly nags at you to get to work on it. In both cases, nothing is happening except a lot of angst.

That’s what I’m experiencing after having finished Crucible of War. I’m working hard to promote Crucible and the previous books in the series so we’ll get the sales we need to keep the series going, but I still feel as if I need to be producing words. Lots of them. After all, if I intend to have Valley of the Shadow ready for production in time for a fall 2014 release, production deadlines are already approaching at warp speed. I NEED to get busy!

I do have a basic outline and have written some scenes. I can clearly see the scope of the book and feel my characters champing at the bit to forge forward. It’s just that my brain is resisting efforts to write down the details. Thankfully I’ve been writing long enough to know that that’s not unusual. Many of my author friends experience the same thing at the end of a project. It seems that the fallow seasons of fall and winter almost always follow the lush summer of creativity.

That’s where I am right now, and I’m wrestling with the urge to get to it! But I keep reminding myself that even though I may not be sitting in front of the computer actively putting words on the page, I am reading and meditating and getting in deeper touch with my characters and their stories. I’m allowing the fallow season to do its work. It’s still uncomfortable!

In winter everything appears to be dead, but in reality the work is just lying dormant. Roots still stretch out beneath the ground as nature prepares in invisible but sure ways for the sudden explosion of springtime. I feel the story swelling inside me, and one day soon the sap of creativity will rise and the buds wrapped in their protective scales will burst open. Then the words will begin to pour out on the page . . .

Have you ever experienced a season of creative winter, whatever your endeavor? I’d love to hear about the struggles you’ve encountered at the end of a project and how you worked through them!