I took a hiatus last year, and I’m finding that it has to happen again now. I’m enjoying my resolution to read less online and more in print, but that shift has also meant that I want to spend more of my time writing fiction and less worrying about my self-imposed blogger schedule.
So for a while—how long is yet to be seen—I’ll be on hiatus from this blog. Hopefully there will be a lot of learning along the way, and I’ll have lots of juicy tidbits to share.
For now, go WRITE!
In writing or anything else, the first step in achieving a goal is setting realistic expectations. National Novel Writing Month expects 50,000 words. A half marathon expects 13.1 miles. These expectations are clear and measurable, and when taken on with the right mentality, achievable. (Or at least that’s what I’m told.)
When you ask someone to read your work-in-progress, it’s only fair to set realistic expectations on both ends of the deal. When will readers receive the manuscript? How much should they read? And when are notes “due,” for lack of a better word?
Perhaps the whole work is too much for your reader, even if it’s a close and trusted friend, who is juggling her own day job, after-hours writing, and social life/family. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple readers, try dividing the manuscript into more digestible chunks, so that you get serious feedback on the whole, rather than incomplete feedback that focuses on just the first few chapters.
You, as the author, also set the precedent for the priority with which your work should be treated. If you get your pages out to your readers when you say you will, you can expect a response within a given time frame. If you can’t stick to your own schedule, your readers won’t necessarily feel bound to it either.
Even having written my own, I find that knowing a friend is working on a novel is exciting, and I want to help when I can. Knowing what’s expected makes it a lot easier to be useful—and a lot more fun, too.
Two years ago, I established a designated weekly writing time. When we moved in with my in-laws this summer, I established a couple of mornings each week as editing time. In the last few months, I realized something else—something rather elementary—needed to find its way into my schedule as well: reading books.
Novel writing is so much more than typing a certain number of words to tell a story. It’s editing, researching, reading, sharing, rewriting, and accepting criticism. Each of the commitments I’ve made has been for personal as well as professional reasons. The truth is that I need a little of each of these things—writing, editing, reading—in my routine to be at the top of my game both as a publishing professional and as a human being.
Our lives are busy, and so much of what I had been reading was in little chunks here and there, or alternatively, was the same Elephant and Piggie books over and over again (and they’re still great, for the record). As far as reading online, I’ve read (online) that research has proven that more screen time leads to anxiety and other not-so-awesome things. I’ve seen this in my own experience, especially after I finally joined the smartphone club. Something needed to give.
Designating a time for reading books means that I’m engaging in meaningful storytelling. I’m feasting my eyes on the printed page I love so dearly. And I’m getting more sleep because I’m not click-click-clicking through when I should be getting to bed. More sleep also means a mind more ready and able to create when those times come around.
My new year’s resolution? Read less online, more in print. Read to be a better writer, read well, read because I love it.