I'm Writing a Book | Writing When You're Not Writing

27 January 2024


I heard someone once say that the creative process never sleeps. If you're getting frustrated with a project, or can't find a solution to a problem, it's always best to take a step back. Get a drink. Take a walk. Go to sleep. Do what you need to do to separate yourself from the issue, and when you eventually sit back down to work on it again, you may find the answer much easier than it would have been if you had tried to fight through the headaches and much better than it would have been to force a solution. 

Even when you're not directly thinking about a project, your subconscious is thinking about it for you. I don't know anything about the science behind this belief, but in my experience, especially with writing I have found it to be true. 

I have been working on my novel since 2020, when I finally set pen to paper to write the story I had been contemplating for 2 years before that. I wrote a whole third of it, with more excitement and confidence than any other work in progress I had attempted before. 

But when I got pregnant, the book went on pause in a big way. Everything went on pause as I navigated a new stage of life I hadn't anticipated to come so soon. In short, it has been over a year now, and I have not touched my book since. The time simply slipped away before I could even grasp that it was flying by right in front of me. 

However, though I have not actively wrote a single word in my abandoned document, that doesn't mean that I haven't thought of my story. Not at all. I think about it very often. It's my "Roman Empire" if you will, the thing that pops into my head obtrusively, without warning. And when it does come to mind, I notice plot points I hadn't connected before and traits that will make my characters so much richer that I never would have thought of it I had plowed my way through that first draft so long ago.

There's also research. Since my book is historical fiction, there is always research to do. It can be intimidating when I think of all the little details I want to get right for the authenticity and sense of place in my story. But, even in my absence from the world of my novel, that hasn't stopped me from researching. I'm constantly thinking about the time period. Watching videos. Reading articles and books. I know I don't necessarily need to become an expert in the time period to write a fiction novelization of it, but I do feel like my knowledge has grown in this short year alone, and I'm excited to use it in my writing.

Does this mean I'm happy that I haven't written? Not at all! But I'm also going to try not to beat myself up for not writing, as if writing is something I have to do. The truth is, there are far too many things right now that I "have to" do and I'm glad to have a little bit of freedom in knowing that the writing process isn't linear. It's meant to be fun, and enlightening as I watch my story and my skills grow through the process.

Absence has made my heart grow ever fonder for my story and my characters. I know now more than ever that if I can only write one book in my life, I want it to be this one, even if nobody else will ever read it. And I can't wait to get started again.

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