Well, it happened this week: I put the finishing touches onto the first draft for my 558 page graphic novel Death’s Feast. It has taken somewhere in the vicinity of thirteen months to do all the artwork for it, and has sucked up almost all of my free time for that period.
Most writers expect to be proud when they finish work on a piece. But for me, pride is only a small part of it. What I feel most is empty, directionless, and off-balance, like one of the pillars that was holding me up has started to crumble.
I become irritable and bored easily, and feel a little lost in everyday life. My family know to avoid me until I pick up a new project.
I guess I don’t like having ‘spare’ time. Time should be productive or GTFO.
1) Getting out of the house
Chances are if you’ve been hammer and tong at your latest magnum opus, you haven’t ventured outside too often to see what season it is. Maybe you could take the chance to find out. I went outside today… I didn’t really care for it because it was cold.
2) Spending time with the family
Unless you do all your writing while the world is sleeping or on the commute to/from work, you might be choosing to write in favour of spending time with the old family. Not having a writing project dominating your conscious mind might give you a chance to reconnect with the people who make everything else worthwhile.
3) Playing video games
If all else fails, video games are the ultimate time sink. In fact, they can completely take over your writing time. But while you’re not writing, having a decent time sink can be a godsend. For my part, I am rediscovering the joys and trials of Dark Souls. I will finish that game one of these days!
4) Catch up on sleep
I write at night, having volunteered to give up sleep in order to keep my writing going. Although I know this routine will be hard to get back into, I have relaxed it a bit to catch up on sleep again, and God does it feel good!
5) Productive self-distraction
There are plenty of things you can do to distract yourself without actually wasting your time. For instance, I am going to spend a little while concentrating on re-promoting some of my previously published work and getting back on top of my various social media networks, which I have been neglecting the last couple of months.
But, assuming for the moment that you don’t want to participate in my marketing campaign, there are things you can do, like writing blogs, volunteering for charity, chores around the house…
Ah, hell with it, I’ll just go straight to number
6) Start another writing project
I am in the (fortunate?) position of having multiple writing projects on the go at all times. When I finish one, the rest all begin to clamour for my attention. It usually takes me a few days before I feel motivated to listen to them, but it won’t be long before I once again take up my pen in the endless and unwinnable fight against creative atrophy.
If you don’t have another story idea ready to go, think about some of the ideas you’ve ignored along the way. Or maybe take a look at some of the stuff you’ve cut out of early drafts of the work you just finished. There might be a germ of an idea or a theme you want to explore.