You’ve finally finished your big project. You’ve worked on it and loved it and you’ve spent every waking minute thinking about it. You’ve been sat in front of a computer feverishly typing away, adhering to a deadline you may have established or your publisher has established or you are going away on that holiday to Thailand and you really, really have to get it finished-
Any-the-hoo, you’ve been working away like a busy little bee, and then it’s finished-over-and you wonder what on earth you’re supposed to do now.
You feel like you should be working but there’s nothing to work on. You feel like you should be starting the new story but you are too burned out. There is a constant feeling the other shoe is about to drop and you wonder what is wrong with you that you feel this way.
I felt like this after finishing big university assignments and of course, recently, after finishing Enslaved. In regards to Enslaved, I was working away like a mad thing, trying to finish before my self-imposed deadline of 28 February. Every weekend I worked, in the evenings, at odd moments during the day. I spent my downtime thinking about Enslaved and was generally consumed by the story for a few weeks. Then, I handed it in to my editor…and I was at a complete loss.
I felt like I needed to do…something. Didn’t I have a manuscript I needed to work on? Was I supposed to be editing? There was an extra scene I needed to write, surely. I should be in front of my computer, tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard, but, of course, I had no manuscript to work on. I had finished. Finished, I tells ya!
So how did I combat it? I talked about how I felt ‘let down’ with my friends. I discussed it with my critique partner. I tried to start the next project. It’s a strange feeling when you think you should be doing something even though you know you have finished. Your head is saying one thing and your heart (for want of a better term) is saying another and you just can’t reconcile the two. You tell yourself to have a break but you’ve been working so hard for so long, surely you should be continuing with that?
Next question – how successful was I? Well, I’m still trying to discover that. I think the only way to combat the big let down is to allow time to pass. I think you need time to adjust back to normal, to find your creativity again and be able to shift into the new story. There’s no point writing a historical romp through Romania in 1845 when you’re still mired in an operatic space drama set in Galactic Space Zone Trifixidoria, Quadrant Alpha-Numrea G7.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to do nothing. To relax. Wind down. Learn how to be calm and collection again Have a glass of wine, eat that chocolate, enjoy a walk along the beach. You need time to recharge so you can tackle the next big project and go through the whole process again!
– originally written for the newsletter of Society of Women Writers South Australia Inc.