1. Birmingham

    Birmingham Active Member

    Jan 24, 2011
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    Taking a break from a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Birmingham, Nov 11, 2012.

    Do you ever stop in the midst of a story due to being jaded with it? I mean, you live with your own story more than any reader ever will. You tell it to yourself over, and over, and know a lot of the scenes before you even write them. Is it good to take some time off? Or is it dangerous because you're then less likely to return to your story?

    And during that break, what do you do? Read? Start committing to a new story?

    See, I have this idea, I had it for a while, and now I"m at a point where all of the big twists and original ideas that just "came to me" are pretty much over, and I'm shifting gears, and the characters have all finished planning their moves and are now going to actually commit them. So even though many of the characters surprised me, I now know what each and every one of them is about to do. There are always surprises, but they'll be very minor at this point. So, even though it might be exciting for a new reader, to me it feels like a story I've already read or watched, and is mostly predictable (predictable to me the writer. Not to others, necessarily). Do you find yourself in a position like this? Do you take a break when you do? Do you return to it? And what do you do in the meantime? I guess the best thing would be to read.
  2. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    That "predictability" is exactly why I don't outline or plan before writing. However, to your case - don't take a break. Not at a point where you're feeling bored because then it will just be a chore (even if subconsciously) to go back to it. Keep writing - but allow yourself to deviate if the occasion arises. Just because they've planned out all these things doesn't mean someone or something won't throw a spanner into the works (as my Brit buddies say).
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Definitely - and it's horrible!

    This happens to me with big projects, especially novels in which a lot of planning has been done prior to writing. I have written
    several drafts of a super-huge novel and when I was coming to the end chapters - where all mysteries were to be revealed, all
    secrets exposed, killers unmasked I found myself stalling out. How to bring this to an exciting climax? I finally decided to
    forgo my outline. Free-write, stream of conscious. And something wonderful happened - the end was like a beginning - in fact
    better than the beginning. It was sharp, edgey, not everything was tied up and there was a terrific showdown that I never
    could've planned.

    My advice is if you're over planning - toss out the plan, see where it goes. But if this idea isn't your
    thing - don't worry it's not for everyone, than try taking a break.

    You could take time out to read and relax. But I'm not really for that.
    I've taken breaks from projects and before I knew it weeks turned into months than years. I get
    involved in something else and I've got unfinished projects all over the place.

    Maybe write something fun with the characters you're working with - give them a
    holiday. Write a short-short story about them doing something totally bizarre and out of
    character. One character I treated the most poorly in my novel, I wrote a small scene
    where he happily married. Later on when I returned back to my project, the scene kept
    coming back and I managed to work more sympathy into his rash behavior.
  4. D-Doc

    D-Doc Active Member

    Sep 7, 2011
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    Vista, CA
    I think you should alter the story as needed. If following a rigid plot line is killing your enthusiasm, or you find that your characters are behaving only to advance the plot rather than behaving as people, go ahead and change it up. Maybe the story will branch off in a completely different direction than you had intended.

    As far as breaks go, I suppose you can do it if you really feel that it's necessary. I wouldn't advise it, though. I think it's harder for me to get back into the story-into the zone, so to speak-if I take a break. I lose touch with the characters and the feel of the story, and I find myself backtracking and rereading earlier parts of the work to get back into that frame of mind (and also to make sure that no obvious inconsistencies arise). I know all of this from experience because I work on a drilling rig away from home for two weeks out of every month. My production plummets during a hitch, but during my two weeks off I write no less than 1,000 words a day. I consider writing 1,000 words in the two weeks I'm gone to be productive. In any case, I've found that when I return home my first day of writing is sometimes a bit choppy and I feel off. I'm back on track by the following day, usually.

    So, I think breaks kind of hurt the work. Something I'm doing now that may work for you is to write just enough to keep connected to the story, but only if you really have to take a break. I try to write at least a paragraph or two everyday while I'm on the rig, just so I don't lose touch and it's not difficult to jump back into the story when I come home. If you're taking a break, try to write just a little bit a day, maybe a paragraph.
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    Funny, because when I know what's gonna happen, I'm all the more excited to write it because in writing it, I feel the tension and excitement all the more - it's like thinking about a movie and then actually watching it. I grow bored and get a block when I don't know what's going on, because you can't write it if you don't know what to write.

    As for you, no, don't take a break. You may think you've got it all worked out but stories always change - you think of a better way to express this, you realise that there is a bad idea, or maybe some scenes lack natural progression even though in your head it all felt right. Just keep writing - by writing, you'll surprise yourself. If you don't write though, your story will never evolve and then it does become boring. You won't discover all the Easter eggs if you don't write :) Think of it this way, the plan's just the garden - you know the garden well, but you still don't know where all the eggs are, and maybe you'll find a bunny too :D

    I just got too carried away with my Easter egg analogy lol.

    Oh and I'm the sort who would stop if I ever took a break. The longest break I gave myself was 2.5 weeks, and I was getting worried. You need to actually work to get your fire back sometimes - I managed by realising that there're some things I just don't wanna write, even if the idea is the most obvious one and will solve my problem the most easily. Since I put some effort into thinking at a time when I was completely switched off and bored of my book, I managed to literally write myself out of my apathy. So yeh, the key - WRITE ON!
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    don't do what anyone else does or tells you to do... just do what works best for you... that can be any of these:

    take a complete break from writing
    take a day/week/month break from writing the piece you're having trouble with
    start a new piece of writing
    work on another existing piece of writing
    do research for something you're writing
    do anything else you feel like doing or need to do
  7. JamesOliv

    JamesOliv Senior Member

    Aug 26, 2012
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    New York
    Ditto that.

    I take breaks all the time. Sometimes I wander away and start a new story. Sometimes I work on an old project. Sometimes I go for a walk. Sometimes I go shopping.

    If you need a break, take a break. If you try to push through it you run the risk of writing just to write and that can result in disaster.

    Do what you need to do and don't listen to us.

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