Downtime Decompression

I recently released a novel, Gone for a Soldier, which took me two years to write and publish. Of course I wasn’t writing solidly for two years, but with intensive research and several drafts, not to mention the publishing side of the equation, traveling to conferences and workshops, and life in general, it was a long two years.

Now I’m in a sort of downtime lull before I begin another work of long-form fiction. I need time to decompress from the stress and focus of the completed task before I begin another like process.

I’ve had people ask me what I do between writing novels. The first thing I do is take a couple of weeks to recover. No writing. Plenty of recreational reading. Sleeping in.

But that can’t last forever. When I’m tired of being a lazy lout, what do I do?

I write shorter fiction. Much shorter, like six thousand words or fewer. I have three stories in the works right now.

Or I write poetry. It’s a totally different discipline of writing.

Or I think. I collect my thoughts. I let ideas swirl around in my mind, mulling over grand “what if’s” for a new work.

Or I analyze and plan. What methods of publicity for my works are best? Should I up my quarterly e-newsletter to six times a year? Should I learn more about using Goodreads? Spend less time on Facebook? More?

Since my books typically come out in the last part of calendar years, a new year is right around the bend, so another thing I do is try to figure out my calendar of projects and travel for the following year: How can I juggle writing and production with traveling to events? What conferences will I attend? Should I make a box set of my novels? What awards will I seek? Will I make the deadlines? How can I make my website more useful? What did I leave undone this year that should be put on next year’s list of projects? Do I have enough inventory of books? Too much? Should I consider cutting back on travel and/or memberships in writing associations? What is my most effective time of day to write? Why am I not on Wikipedia?

Whoa! Enough with the questions. They could take over my life. It may be time to start writing a new novel.

What do you do with your downtime?

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5 thoughts on “Downtime Decompression

  1. Read one of Marsha Ward’s books…or do family history (you can’t believe how much fodder I have for my upcoming series for doing this and it just keeps growing!)

  2. hmm..taking care of my parents has whittled away any true down time, but I do like writing poetry for a break. Maybe the gratification is more immediate than months and years of writing a novel.

  3. Thanks for the plug, Michelle! Family history is a great use of downtime. Tamara, take care of yourself! Yes, writing poetry has a much more immediate reward.

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