This month's theme is "spring break", and I think most of us here have been talking about the times we've needed to step away from our own manuscripts, taking a total break from writing - and oh, those times really can be crucial! Personally, I have an inescapable pattern with every new book: the idea comes to me in a blinding flash, I scribble like mad, lit up with inspiration and excitement...and then, within an absolute maximum of two chapters, I run completely out of steam.
Oops. Turns out book ideas don't come quite THAT quickly, after all! From long (and painful) experience, I've finally learned that there's no point trying to force myself onward at that point, trying to hammer a too-thin idea into working. Instead, what I need to do - the ONLY thing that works for me - is to take a month or so completely off...and give my subconscious the time to develop that cool opening idea into the makings of a real, solid BOOK.
I can actually feel it, like a click! when all the elements finally fall into place. That's the moment when I need to go back to work, plowing through even on the days when it feels hard and bleak and uninspired. But without taking that initial break, my books would never happen.
This month, though, I'm not in that first, flashing moment of a manuscript. I'm a quarter of the way through my newest work-in-progress...and I cannot wait for my own personal Spring Break. Next week, for the first time ever, I'm actually taking myself and my book off for a private vacation together! Because I'm the mom of a four-year-old, this is going to be a short break...but because I'm the mom of a four-year-old, this also feels really radical to me.
For about 54 hours, I'll be taking a break from responsibility, from house- and childcare...from everything but my writing. For 54 hours, I won't be looking after anyone but my book!
The truth is, I don't have really lofty wordcount goals, by many writers' standards. If I can write 5,000 words in my writing retreat, I will be absolutely thrilled. But no matter how many words I do or don't write, the chance to step away from real life and just be nothing but a writer for 54 hours - taking all that time to dream and plan and work on my book without interruption - sounds like absolute perfection right now.
I'm going to miss my son a LOT. But I'm hoping to come back to him feeling refreshed and ready to be a full-on parent for his own Spring Break (which starts the afternoon I get home).
I think we all need Spring Breaks from time to time. And I can't wait for mine.