Step Away From The Manuscript

Sometimes you just plain need to put your manuscript down for a while.

Of course, you may not always be able to do this if you’re up against a deadline. And it’s certainly not wise to do that if you’ve been neglecting it altogether. Trust me when I say the longer you leave it sitting, the easier it is to convince yourself it was never any good to begin with.

Writerbrain. It sucks sometimes. Always second-guessing yourself.

But at the same time, it’s good to set it down if you’re hung up on something – a plot twist, a dull passage, and impossible continuity breach…anything that’s arrested your momentum and looks insurmountable at the moment.

That happened to me earlier this week, and I shut down my laptop and watched a movie with my kids. We ended up getting ridiculously silly through it, and decided to hold a living room campout and sleep on an air mattress so we could watch another movie after that. The kids fell asleep ten minutes in, and I got to thinking about the movie plot and how it related to some of our adventures, and before you know it, I was pulling out the laptop and writing through that impasse.

Once, I got a huge case of writer’s block and decided to go for a walk in the woods on New Year’s Day, of all days. I got pretty far out there, hadn’t kept track of time, I was all by myself and my cell phone wasn’t getting reception there. It was starting to get dark (and really cold) and I realized that if something happened to me – I met a psychotic hermit who lived in the woods or slipped and hit my head on a rock or stumbled into a den of snakes or something, I was really screwed because no one – I mean no one – even knew I was out there.

I managed to hike back to my car just as it got dark without being murdered or injured, but that rush of adrenalin – and the brain surge that followed examining all the possible terms of my imminent demise – really got me charged up. By the time I got home, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.

You never know where inspiration will strike. And sometimes, you have to step back a bit so it has room to hit you. Don’t forget to live your life, people. That’s where the stories come from, after all.

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