And so I did. Finish something, that is.
Earlier this week, I completed the rewrite of a novel that I hope to publish in 2018. I heaved a huge sigh of relief because the rewrite had been long and hard. There were times when I wasn’t sure I’d finish, when I wasn’t sure I had it in me to finish. But I kept pushing forward, determined to see the rewrite through to the end.
Now I’m spent, and I don’t quite know how to move forward.
It’s not a new feeling. I’ve completed large projects before throughout my creative journey. A series of paintings, other novel-length manuscripts, musical compositions — and I’ve always felt restless afterwards. I think it’s because I’ve invested so much time in them and they become my life. When they’re done, it feels almost like I’ve lost a part of myself. It feels like I’m living in a fog.
This time it feels a little different, and I’m not sure why. Or maybe I do. Maybe I’m already running ahead to the future and worrying about if the writing is good enough. Will it stand up in the long term? How will critics react to it? Did I accomplish what I set out to achieve?
I reached out on Twitter to see if other writers experienced something similar. I quickly learned that I wasn’t alone, and many offered advice on how to keep moving: Start on another writing project right away. Read a book. Take a break. All good options.
I’m learning to take it day by day.
Out for a run this morning, I felt that fog beginning to lift, that feeling of restlessness beginning to ebb. And here I am writing again, and that feels good.
On a day like today, I remind myself that a career in the arts takes faith and courage. I must believe in myself, and have faith that I can succeed and remain faithful to the cause. I know that I have to just begin somewhere, and then let myself be guided. That’s faith. I have travelled down this road before and survived, and I will no doubt see this road again. That’s courage. Nevertheless, in this moment, I’m looking for a way to shake off this restlessness, peel away the doubt. This act of writing is helping to do that, telling me to begin where I am, and the rest will follow.
How do you feel after you’ve finished a creative project? How do you keep moving forward? Let me know in the comments section below.
Gregory Josephs says
First off, congratulations! I’m so excited for you! I’ll be first in (the digital) line to get it when it comes out.
When I finish something huge, I let myself walk on air for a little while, but then ultimately the restlessness kicks in.
When I knew I was coming close to finishing my first draft of TEORG I made reservations at my favorite French bistro and told my husband he could only take me if I finished the manuscript on that day. That was the best steak frites I’ve ever eaten. It was a magnificent night out, but the next morning. . .
I wanted to dive right back in and start editing and revising. I took Stephen King’s advice, however, and put it in a drawer for about six weeks. In the meantime I let my brain rest—I read a ton of books, played a few video games, and even watched television (which I never do). When the waiting period was up I felt completely fresh, and was able to attack the manuscript with vigor.
It worked for me, but I understand it might not for everyone.
I also like the advice about writing something else right away. If you are able, it’s probably a great idea.
And of course. . . running is great for lifting fog.
Congratulations again, Marcus! I really am thrilled for you.
It’s always exciting when we finish something. And you’re right: when we let the work rest, we’re able to come back k to it – attack it, if you will – with vigour. I needed to let myself spin for a day or two, so some fun writing, and then getting back to work on a longer project. So now I’m back to work on book number three.
I’m glad you enjoyed your steak-frites after completing the first draft of TEORG. We have to treat ourselves, celebrate our accomplishments.
Hope your week is going well!