I recently finished a new draft of Book 2 in my SHADE series and now that I’m done I’m getting that, “so now what?” kind of feeling. I’m trying to decide whether the book needs to go into cold storage for future editing or if I should try and fix things I think may need fixing. But I go through this with every novel, every major draft.
Book 2 got split into Book 2 and Book 3, which means Book 3 is practically finished already. Woot! I think I’ve discussed this before, but have you ever had to do that? It was a super hard decision I fought for a month or two. This must be the outliner/plotter in me that when a draft has been completed, it’s completed! Luckily I’ve done enough revisions over the last couple of years the logic side of my brain comes out to remind me all the goodness that awaits in revising.
But there can be too much revising, or rather too much at the wrong time. I’m a firm believer that drafts need to rest. The cache needs to be cleared.
The odd thing was when I started new draft, I had no motivation to write it. I was still fighting that old splitting decision. Now that it’s come to an end, my motivation demands more writing. It’s a nice feeling.
So I’m turning to project codename CLEMMINGS. Originally I’d only planned it as a novelette at best. Now I’m trying to figure out a novel’s worth of plot. Sometimes it’s tough in the beginning. For me it always seems to help if I ask myself a bunch of questions.
- Who is the apparent villain?
- Who is the true villain?
- What’s the main goal?
- Can I make characters that seem like they are good guys be bad guys and vice versa?
- What’s the point of the whole story?
- How would I like for the main character to arc?
- If this person is the villain, what does that mean for everyone else?
- What do my characters believe about their world and how does that move the story forward?
Stuff like that. Sometimes I type it, sometimes I write it in a notebook. The nice thing about physically writing things like this down is you can see the progression of your thoughts. It is possible to see that digitally, it’s just more apparent physically. Many an outline has started that way, though I organize all those thoughts digitally in the end. It’s hard to keep my notes straight after a point, the way I write them.
OTHER THINGS I’M DOING
I decided to save on gas and improve health I wanted to purchase and use more often a bicycle. It takes around 45 minutes to bike into work (mostly depending on me) and it’s not super easy, but I’ve noticed my happiness factor has increased since doing it. That doesn’t mean I never have bad days, but they certainly seem easier to cope with.
Yesterday I went out to a trail that’s an old railroad route. Utah’s natural state isn’t typically much more than prairie grass and sagebrush in the valley. And while there is that along this trail, there was also lots of trees, marshland, wildflowers—even a tunnel and a couple of creeks. And though several cyclists passed me by frequently (we have a high concentration of legit cyclists, both of the road and mountain persuasion), I kept reminding myself to enjoy the ride rather than keep the pace.
It really helps clear the cache. I’ve been trying to walk, too, in order to keep my feet conditioned for tour guiding. I feel like it’s making me a better writer, all this exercise, for how much it alleviates stress. Sometimes I think about my stories, sometimes I don’t.
It just seems stopping and smelling the roses so to speak has helped me maintain some balance.
MY OTHER DISTRACTIONS
Candy Crush Saga and the farm one (most of you know what I’m talking about) have also occasionally been pushing their way into the horizon. But I think it’s important to know yourself. And while there are times when I probably play a little too much of these games, I find them also to be good cache-clearers while I’m writing. Sometimes when I was stuck on a certain scene, all it took was a game or two and I had clarity again. And if that didn’t work, the walk or the bike ride.
Whether games, exercise, TV shows/movies (and I consume plenty of these as well), I think if done in good measure can be helpful to our mental health and our writer health.
So, with all that being said, what are some things you do to keep up mental/physical/writer health? Are there things you definitely can’t do? Anything you’d recommend that has worked well in your life? What things help you through difficult scenes? What things help you through difficult moments of life?