It happens 10-14 days after completing a rough draft or revisions to a draft of your work. First, you celebrate. Then you catch up on things you fell behind on, or that need to be done: chores, errands, housecleaning, etc. Once all of that is done, you start to notice it: nothing holds your interest. You can’t find books to read or TV shows to watch that really engage you. Life is boring routine. You realize it when you’re sitting in your recliner, in your perfectly clean and stocked house, staring at weather forecasts for clear across the nation, or watching a golf game on TV when you know nothing about golf, or staring at your toes and wondering if they’ve always been so short and stubby, or something similarly irrelevant. That’s when you know that you’ve hit the post draft slump.
Life without writing is boring. I don’t know how people do it.
Still, these breaks from writing are necessary, and even mandatory. Stephen King encouraged a break between drafts in On Writing. This advice has been repeated from other writers and professionals in the field, even (for me) as recently as my Effective Editing Course. It makes sense, because writing, rewriting, editing, and publishing a novel (I call this the “Post Publication Slump”) require a tremendous amount of work that draws the creative well dry, and it needs time to replenish. I don’t care what people say about writer’s block: it exists as surly as burnout from your day job does, and the only cure is a break. The problem is that you get used to doing it, so once it’s gone, you feel like something’s missing.
It’s not pleasant, but I’ve been writing long enough to realize that it’s normal, and the best thing to do is not take it seriously, and ride it out. It always passes, and inspiration returns. I think it also helps to have a creative hobby to somewhat fill the void. I often encourage other writers to have a hobby that’s still creative, but unrelated to writing for this very reason: it keeps your desire for creative pursuits engaged while giving your muse the time it needs to rest and recover. I do counted cross-stitching. A friend at the last agency I worked at taught me how to give me a “different creative outlet,” and that was a tremendous blessing. I have tried some other arts and crafts (like jewelry making and embroidery), but I wasn’t good at them, and the cross stitching seems to fit with my skills and abilities best. It’s a lot like writing: you start with a blank cloth, and by the time you finish the pattern it’s a beautiful picture.
This too shall pass. But at least one good thing comes in the slump: I sleep well, because I’m not being kept awake by plot point or characters nagging at me to finish the draft. It’s done, and they’re resting well. So, perhaps, will I.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.