What’s Working Right Now: Finding a Balance

So at the time of this writing, it’s been not quite two months since I conquered NaNoWriMo and added 50k in the first draft of my historical WIP. (You can read about that victory here.) What, you may be asking, is the deal with not adding to that project?

For starters, December was an insanely busy month: work demands, family life, and holiday planning all played a part in me adding zero words to my WIP. I’ve also noted here some lessons I learned from my first NaNo failure the year prior. I know that pushing myself without resting created some serious burnout around the middle of last year, and I nearly lost my desire to pursue writing during this time. While I’d love to keep grinding, as befits my goal, I’ve learned to recognize the signs and to step back before I lose the passion to write once again.

This time last year, I was hammering away on WIP #1 (The sci-fi one) while trying to read several ARCs to review for fellow writer friends, on top of my everyday workload (the one I get paid for). This gung ho approach exposed me to a great deal of different stories (all of which were entertaining) and techniques while I worked on my own writing, but also left me with zero energy to tap into. Looking back, it’s a wonder I got anything done at all. I had no idea how to strike a balance that was going to work for me and my needs — I just went for whatever sounded good. And while I know my friends appreciate my efforts for their work, I’m focused now on balancing the things I need to do in my literary pursuits.

So what does that balance look like?

For starters, my wife got me an awesome Christmas gift: the book SPQR by Mary Beard. It’s just what the doctor ordered to rework my current WIP for its next draft. While I’m reading, I’m jotting down notes for things I need to dig into further later on. Am I getting any writing done at the moment? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working at all. In fact, I plan on cycling back to it before long when I finish reading up on my subject matter.

While I’m at it, I’m making it a goal this year to chip away at that enormous TBR pile. I may buy fewer books, and perhaps it means I get a little less writing done instead. But at the same time, it means I have the gas in the tank to floor it when it’s time to put words on the screen. And in that regard, seeing what I accomplished this past November, I know I can make up quick bursts in no time at all.

In addition to SPQR, I’m also reading

Battle for the Valley, by C.R. Pugh (link here)

Nav’Aria: The Pyre of Tarsin by K.J. Backer (link here)

What’s on your to-do list, readers? Are you looking for balance as well?

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