Monday, August 15, 2011
Getting Help and Taking a Break
My good friend Julie Hennrikus is active in the mystery-writing sphere and in Boston theater. She works in theater management but is also a terrific writer of short stories (she has one in Thin Ice by Level Best Books, as do I) as well as a mystery novel. We both serve on the board of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime.
Julie wrote an excellent post recently on "It's Really OK." She addresses the need to help each other and, occasionally, to take a break, step back, reconsider what one is doing. For a theater, this might even mean closing for a while.
This blog post at Stage Source is aimed at theater people. I think it is relevant to writers, too, and possibly just about everybody. My experience with mystery writers locally and internationally has been only positive. Published authors help out unpublished. Unpublished help each other. Everyone is so supportive. We might envy another's success while still waiting for our own, but that doesn't mean we won't congratulate them, retweet and repost their announcements, and have them on for a guest blog post at the time of their book launch.
Still, as Julie says, "Asking for help is a sign of strength." You going to get more out of your networked contacts if you ask for help instead of sitting back waiting to hear a tidbit of something useful.
As for regrouping, taking a break: for me, when the writing gets tough, when I despair of getting Speaking of Murder ever published, I am sometimes tempted to just stop writing altogether. Then I remember how happy it makes me to create a fictional world. My way of regrouping is to take a break by writing something different. A short story. A blog post. A letter to my mother or one of my sons. When I return to the book-in-progress, I have a fresher voice and a reenergized muse. I've also started branching out from querying agents to querying small presses, and have not ruled out publishing it as an ebook if all else fails.
Of course, there are times when taking a break is almost mandated. You finally typed The End at the end of the first draft? Let it sit for a month or two. You need some distance to be able to still love it when it's time to get in there and revise the heck out of it.
And for non-writers? We can all use a reminder to ask for help and take a break now and then. So thanks, Julie, for these bits of wisdom!