“Look Away, Look Away” sang Big Country way back in the 80’s somewhere… I am pretty sure they weren’t giving writing advice, but it works pretty well anyway.
Can’t see the wood for the trees? Take a break. Writing can sometimes be the most depressing activity. Especially when you have been doing well and getting it down and making progress. Suddenly you have no idea where you are, where it is all going r if any of it is actually any good at all.
This is totally logical and it happens with any project of any size, writing related or otherwise. You might recognise some of these problems of prolonged contact with a creative project:
1) Loss of big picture
2) Loss of direction
3) Lack of sense of progress
5) Loss of perspective
This is another area where the myth of just being able to bang it all out in one long surge really kicks in. You might, and with practice, over time, you will be able to. But in the beginning, you need to retreat, think again. It’s easy to get side-tracked or lost in text.
So, here are some tricks to try and help you over the hump:
* Print out what you’re writing and read it over again. Somehow the change of format really helps with seeing errors, places for improvement and hidden gems.
* If you want to save the trees, randomly change font size and colours throughout your document, then read it. You’ll be amazed at what you see.
* Do another creative project for a bit. Garden, cook, paint or carve. Your writing will be there stewing in the background. The new discipline will give you new ideas of how to approach problems.
* Exercise. Writing is of course totally cerebral. Give the grey matter a rest and work your meat puppet for a bit. A long walk is great, it doesn’t have to be high intensity.
* Help someone with their creative project. Give some advice. It’ll give you perspective on what you are doing.
The bottom line is you need to take a break. Just a small one. Change gears, give your sub and unconscious mind to process a little and then re-engage.
WARNING: Do not take too long a break or you’ll never get started again!