Tuesday, October 28

the lull

Right now, I'm in the lull between having turned a manuscript in to my editor and getting editorial notes for revision. I do not have a day job, and I don't have kids, and there are no pressing tasks on my immediate horizon. In other words: I'm in hell.

Of course, before I was actually in the lull (the more I type that word, the more wrong and crazy it looks), I looked forward to it. I'd fantasize about waking up to empty days and being able to relax and play and read and putter and shop and lunch and go to movies and maybe even mop the floors. In reality, waking up feels a little bit like falling into a hole. As soon as my eyes open, I'm slipping down, down, down into an abyss of uncertainty: How will I approach my day? How will I get myself to make good use of my time without obsessively trying to be "productive"? What is the balance between rest and work? And if I think I've found the balance, can I trust my own judgment? Et cetera.

"Wow, Sara, this sounds like the perfect time to get cracking on your next book or some other wonderful fun writing project!"

Oh, does it now. Yes, on good days I do dabble in potential future projects and try out some new ideas. But I find it difficult to concentrate when in the back of my mind I know there's a monster editorial letter coming that embodies my dearest dreams and worst fears and will be the beginning of a lot of hard work (during the holidays! yay!).

Still, I know that if I want to sustain a long-term writing career and keep the hits comin' and not have a psychotic break, I need to learn how to deal with The Lull. That might look like working on a writing project, or it might look like figuring out how to relax and enjoy the down time, or a little of both.

How do you deal with the lull? Tell me your secrets!

9 comments:

Melissa Walker said...

A little of both is the answer, but I'm with you on not being able to quite figure out how to do it! I need to be outlining a new project now, but since there's no deadline, I find it hard to work on... and reality TV is just so tempting.

Alyson Noel said...

I hate to admit this- but I suck at relaxing. If I'm on vacation- great!
If I'm at home- then I feel like a total slacker if I'm not working on something writing related. So basically, I'm no help. I fill up the lulls with more work!
Good luck with the edits!

Gerb said...

Sadly, I have no lulls so I won't be much help, either. There's always plenty of mommy things I'm supposed to be doing that get put off while I'm finishing up a manuscript. So my "downtime" is spent catching up on those and trying to get ahead before the next project begins or the editorial letter arrives.

However, if *did* have a whole day to myself, I would take one of the many, many books in my TBR pile, curl up in my overstuffed chair and read, read, read.

Wendy Toliver said...

I'm with Linda on the mommy thing, and it seems like there are always things that need to be done around my house. I'm facinated by writers who can work on multiple projects at once.

Jessica Burkhart said...

I'm a hopeless workaholic, so I always find something to do when I'm waiting for edits. I freelance for magazines, outline a new book or change my blog look. :)

Sara Hantz said...

Like Alyson, unless I'm on vacation I can't do lulls. I feel so guilty if I do anything 'unworklike' during the day.... it's okay after dinner.... then I can watch TV or read or whatever without feeling guilty.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I think I have lull envy. I'm trying to figure out why I don't have lulls, and it's dawning on me that it's because I also write shorter mss for much younger readers. I can't imagine working seriously on two prose novels at once (even given lull times), but to pick up a picture book mss is so seductive, so containable. Clearly, the solution is to cut off the little whippersnappers. ;-)

Mette Ivie Harrison said...

I've got to get ready to send in taxes and clean up my desk which has piles and piles of stuff I should have filed on it. Also, possibly some vaccuuming. But I hate vaccuuming, which is probably why I rarely do it. I think I have a mold allergy and the vaccuuming makes it worse. I swear, it's not just laziness!

And then, of course, I always have a list of projects I want to work on next that have been waiting for me to get to the revisions my agent asked for about 6 months ago. No contract, though, so I figured it was when I got to it

Sara Z. said...

Well, very interesting indeed, everyone. Mette, I know your routine and I think if got in the habit of that kind of structure it wouldn't feel like a lull. But every time I try to impose that much structure, I rebel.
Cyn, you will never ever have a lull as long as you keep up that wonderful blog of yours!
Clearly, the ultimate solution is to have kids...