That’s sometimes the answer. I know that – you, too, I’m sure – but, hey, maybe it’s worth exploring, because it’s not so much the time off that does it, it’s mentally letting go, the cessation of thought in the direction of whatever the problem is you are facing that’s the important bit.
Why is it otherwise that writers enjoy a flow of creativity the moment they reach a spot a long way from their desks? A car ride will do it for me. Likewise, a decision to take the day off and turn my thoughts to something else completely. The number of times I’ve found myself in a strange town searching frantically for a shop that sells paper and pens because again I forgot to bring some along, is testimony to how well stepping away works for me.
Yes, yes, it’s true that sometimes you have to just sit there and get writing, ready of not, and that’s a great practice, too, but that is a different thing. This is the bit where you’re getting over hurdles and problems exacerbated because you’re thinking too much and just plain bogged down.
I’ve been diving into detail, particularly logistical detail, the exact means that something is carried out all the way through the channels of officialdom (yes, I know, “mind-numbing” spring to mind. I’ve actually got a post written about officialdom, but I can’t being myself to post it… okay, maybe next week, it’ll be short, I promise).
Of course, you don’t always have to go there into that sort of depth. Sometimes the detail is the story and sometimes it’s just a pain in the ass.
Yesterday I took a day off and I realized that I was still exploring detail and trying to struggle through it, but it was the pain in the ass kind of detail. In other words, I realized that my best bet was to ditch it, lose it, jump over it – I don’t need to follow the chain of command and fill up chapters – because that’s not where the action is.
Guess what! I got back to my desk (day off or not) and wrote out and polished two pages that explains everything that needs to be explained about that in-story decision and, in so doing, managed to roll the action forward. The logistics are there behind the scene, as a perceptive reader you may even be aware of it when you get to that point, but the main thing is that you’ll know something big is coming in and about to roll into something interesting and you’re not kicking your heels in some strange office building full of people you’ve never met, waiting for the paperwork to go through.
Yes, I did have a good day, and a nice break, too (two half days make a whole day, right?)