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Letting Your Baby Go

I put a big project on ice recently

It's possible you saw my big long post on Facebook about it, but if you didn't, let me summarize:

I've been working on the first draft of a novel since November. Mid last month, after getting 700+ pages in, I've stopped. I hope to go back to it some day, but at the very least I need a break.

I often stare at legal pads, looking forlorn

I often stare at legal pads, looking forlorn

It's been several weeks now. Now that I've been away and had time to sit with it, I want to discuss some of my feelings and what I think I'm learning.

The main reasons I put this project to bed were as follows: it was taking up too damn much of my time, I need that time to work on other more urgent projects, there was no end in sight, but most crucially I think was that I was dreading having to write every day. Sure, not every day was a slog, but it was the case more days than not.

To start - oh my goodness, I'm so glad to have my time back. It is weird not having it around because it was a constant for such a long time, but I no longer feel the pressure to hammer words out on it every day. Part of me misses it, but the part of me that is glad to have it off my plate for the time being is much larger.

This project was a personal thing - hopefully the novel will be published some day, but I was kinda just writing it just to write it. That's nice and all when it doesn't take more than a month or so to complete, but when I plug away at it for months and months and months and keep putting off projects that I a) find more interesting and b) are more crucial that I get done in a timely manner, it's worth considering whether or not it's the best use of my time.

I have worked more on other projects. Alas, not nearly as much as I would like, though that is for reasons totally unrelated to the put-off novel (suffice to say, I'm having a lot of trouble with distraction at the moment), but it feels good to put my energies towards something new and where the endgoal is very much present in my mind.

Now, the "dreading to write" thing... I feel like I'm backslid into that at the moment. It's a lot harder to pick up a pen or put the fingers to the keyboard and just go than it used to. I'm not sure what changed, but clearly it's just a bigger problem than the novel I was working on. It could  be related; maybe the pressure I've put on myself over the novel has been unhealthily internalized for all writing.

To close, I guess my message is this: if you do creative work, particularly if you're doing it for yourself, there's no shame in taking some time away or putting a project on indefinite hiatus. Making creative things won't be a joyful skip through the tulips all the time, but one shouldn't dread something that's supposed to ultimately be fulfilling. Breaks are fine. Moving on is fine. Take a breather. Remind yourself to come back later.

I don't know when I'll return to it. I hope I do - I sunk A LOT of time into it. But no matter what, I can't deny that right now, and the way I've felt the past few weeks, is that I'm finally free.

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