After finishing my degree in 2010 I more or less gave up writing. I wanted to write; every now and then the guilt would take over and I’d try, but I never got very far. Eventually it faded into a nagging at the back of my mind: something I always knew I should be doing but other things always got in the way. I was waiting for inspiration.
In April I discovered Script Frenzy. It seemed as good a time as any to pick up a story I’ve been wanting to write for a few years and have struggled through several incarnations of first chapters. I’ve known for a while that it would make an incredible graphic novel, so I decided to write a script for that. Not that I’m overambitious or anything.
It lasted all of six pages, at which point I discovered that the first National Flash Fiction Day was coming up, and started writing for that instead. Next I started CAKE.shortandsweet, then this blog, and the rest is English Literature. I’ve realised you can’t sit around and wait for things to happen.
Do It Yourself
I wanted my short stories published, so I made a public showcase. It was hard work, and still is, but I love it.
I wanted to go to a local writers circle, so I made one. It’s still a very small group, but word is spreading and everyone who’s come along so far has been really friendly and enthusiastic.
I want to publish my novel, so I’m going to self-publish it. Some people are fully behind this, others keep saying I should send it to some agents, just to see. I understand where they’re coming from, and after this I’ll still definitely consider traditional publishers for my next book. But this one, this is going to be all mine. I’m going to do this on my own, and I’m going to make it work.
Over and over I keep hearing that taking long breaks can be fatal to your writing. As I’ve mentioned above, for two years I just couldn’t write. When I started again in April it was like getting my voice back. I write all the time now and I cannot imagine losing it again.
This said, I know I’m a vastly stronger writer now than I was two years ago. During my break I read obsessively, across a huge range of genres and styles and types of writing. I also taught myself patience and dedication. The Sarah Grace of two years ago would not have started her own short story showcase. The Sarah Grace of two years ago left her novel sitting on her hard drive for three years, even though she’d already done all the research on agents and publishers. She would never have dreamed of self-publishing, and she didn’t have the self-discipline to sit and entirely re-plot her novel from start to finish, let alone rewrite it in two months (as I’m planning to do).
What I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to take breaks, so long as you force yourself back into it. Don’t mope. Don’t complain that it’s gone. Just get on with it. You’ll probably find that a break from your own writing has given you better clarity on it, and that the reading and living you’ve done in between has shown you new ways of thinking and writing.