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Last night I was reading this post by my friend, Rachel Hawkins, and her plan to June Sploon. And then I was reading this post by my friend, Kate Messner, about her plans to help librarians and teachers write this summer. And I was like, oh, that would be fun to get in on that June Sploon action. And yeah, I should totally ask Kate what I can do to help her, because that's an awesome idea.

And then I was like - cool your jets, Lisa. Yo, this is supposed to be the summer of some much-needed R&R!


There is a part of me that wants to jump in to every cool thing offered if it could potentially mean a) an opportunity to spend time with people around the blogosphere who I think are cool, b) more exposure for me and my books or c) something that motivates me to get more books written.

But the thing is, I have been at this writing thing a long time now, and I no longer want to do it 24/7. There was a time when I lived and breathed writing and promoting and everything in between, and I don't want to do that anymore. First of all, I don't think it's healthy for me and second of all, this is now my job, and how many times have we heard, you won't be on your death bed, looking back at your life, wishing you worked more? I'm really trying to treat it more like a job.

Because I've been at this a long time now, I know I can write a book in 2-3 months with my tried and true 1,000 words a day. And I also know that summer is my most favorite time of the year. Rachel and I have actually talked about this, and summer is NOT fun where she lives, (down south y'all) so it's logical, I suppose, that summer rolls around and she's ready to stay inside with the glorious A/C and write. Okay, so deadlines help with that decision too, of course.

Summer is when I want to PLAY, as much as possible. Although I will have to work some too. Most likely, I'll have two editorial letters this summer, on two different middle grade novels. I don't really need to write anything new on top of that, when there are hikes to go on and berries to pick and pools to swim in and beaches to comb.

For about nine months of the year, give or take three days, Oregon is dreary and gray. Perfect writing weather, really. And during those eight to nine months, I'm usually working in the early mornings on weekends too, because I don't want to lose any momentum I have in either drafting or revising. So I'm working a LOT during those months. It's taken a long time for me to get to this place where I tell myself it's okay to take a break (as much as possible) during the summer.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about writing and breaks. How do you decide when it's time to take a break? Do you schedule them, or take them as they come? Do you have a favorite time of the year when you want to be playing more than working, like me? Do you think I'm crazy, wanting to try and step away from the writing world this summer?

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
jessica_shea
May. 30th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
I don't think you're crazy -- I think that sounds fun and healthy! Last year my deadlines worked out so that BW went to copyedits at the beginning of July, and I took the rest of the month off. The Playwright usually has a show in CapFringe and we see lots of plays and drink at the Fringe Tent bar and go out with friends and it's really fun. This year I am big sad bc my deadline is the beginning of August, so I'll be working hard throughout Fringe, but I've promised myself a week off afterward to go visit my parents and read by their pool!
lisa_schroeder
May. 31st, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think it's probably hard for writers to really plan breaks. We have to take them as they come. But I don't want to finish editing one book and dive right into writing another one anymore. Filling the well is important for us too, I think.
sheela_chari
May. 30th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
I think this is a really good question, Lisa. I'm just a few months shy of it being a year since my first novel debuted. It's been a great year in so many ways, and I've worked hard where I can to promote my book. And now it's May (my book debuted in July), and...I'm a little tired. I watched Neil Gaiman's commencement speech to the University of the Arts, and there was a remark he made where he said you will need to say no sometimes. I'm not still confident to say no -- I have said yes just about every time -- but I have been thinking this summer I will try to be done with everything (my WIP, promo stuff, etc) so I can really spend it unwinding from such a long year. I want to spend time with my kids and catch up on reading. I might do some writing, but nothing too much and nothing on a schedule. It goes against my impulse that I should be writing every day, but I really do think it is important to take time to do nothing, even if you mentally don't think you should.
lisa_schroeder
May. 31st, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
The thing is - reading is part of our job too, I think. And it's something I desperately miss when I'm in heavy writing mode. So if you feel guilty about not writing for a month or two, if you're reading, you're still working (kind of). A fun kind of work, right? :)
poolhallace
May. 31st, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Breaks are great because 99% of the time (for me, anyway), you never realize how much you truly needed one until you take it. I find breaks hard because I want to be doing *something* 24/7, but afterwards I always find myself with a new outlook, fresh creativity, and a better attitude ;) ENJOY your summer!!!
lisa_schroeder
May. 31st, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
So true. I hope you can get away for a girl's weekend sometime soon - seems like you are overdue for a nice break yourself!
fabulousfrock
May. 31st, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
I have yet to be in the position where I have to say no to things I'm actually asked to do, although in the brief time since I've lived in Maryland I've already realized I over-planned on things I WANTED to do...I'm planning to spend summer mostly being home. I have realized that I need to spend less time on the computer and less time beating myself up over not being on the computer. I hate to not be talking to friends on the internet, but I feel like the discourse has gotten increasingly disconnected and unproductive...LJ turned into Facebook and Twitter and now even those things are less intimate-feeling than they used to be and now...I heard people are just posting on Pinterest or something? I'm exhausted by it all. For all the time I spend online, about 5% of it is actual connection with people and the other 95% is frittering around, feeling depressed because everyone seems to be "in the loop" but me, or having a more successful career than me, or whatever. I know it's just perception, toxic-internet-brain.

I need to step away and live more of a life, so that's what I've been doing...I've been learning how to garden, baking my own bread, doing pastel art...even keeping my house cleaner! It just feels more like a real life this way & I've been a lot happier, but the more I stay away from the internet, the more I feel like I'm on the outside looking in when I do get on the internet, and the worse it makes me feel.
lisa_schroeder
May. 31st, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
I SO get what you're saying. I'm not writing right now and I'm trying not to spend most of that free time on the computer frittering time away. I've cleaned out closets and I'm shopping and cooking and like you said, living life.

One thing I've thought about doing is allowing one morning a week where I just sit and tweet with people and comment on facebook posts and read blogs and comment. That way I'm staying in the loop, but it's a scheduled thing and part of my job. I also answer reader mail one day a week, so maybe that's the same day when I do all of that. Because I do think it's important to stay connected with people and to not just show up when there's suddenly a book to promote.

But I get it. Trying to find a balance with everything is not easy!
afraclose
Jun. 3rd, 2012 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm finding a hard time balancing work and rest right now, myself. I'm slowly, slowly picking away at my habits, trying to get myself to write on a more regular schedule, but I end up burning out easily and having a take a break for a few days (which turns into a week, two week, etc.). Kudos to you for finding the right balance!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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lisa_schroeder
Lisa Schroeder, Author for Kids and Teens
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