Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's the Ideal Amount of Time to Take Between Writing Novels?

These signs always amuse me so much. Although, in New Mexico, the lakes are often somewhat hidden from view, and one can come upon them precipitously, from flat mesa to deep canyon filled with water. Still... the warning signs make me smile.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is the Novelist's Refractory Period: How you handle that time between "just finished the novel" and when you “have” to start the next.

I’ll be interested to hear what everyone else has to say. I suspect that, for some of us, this is driven by the “have” to of deadlines. It sure it for me – both of the self-imposed and external variety.

But I do have this little fantasy I nurse. It’s on the same shelf with the one about the villa overlooking the Mediterranean, a lovely house of vine-draped balconies and sweet cabana boys who bring me balanced meals and vodka cocktails. In this fantasy, I take a month or two off between novels. I see myself as this glamorous writer who plans exotic vacations during her “down time.”

I would use this down time to take a Mediterranean cruise, or hike along Hadrian’s Wall. I might stay in a little house in Bali and spend the mornings meditating and the afternoons snorkeling. (And the nights in wine-drinking.) No matter what I did or where I went, people would (of course) recognize me and say how they loved my last novel and what will the next be about?

This is when I toss my long, fringed silk scarf over my shoulder and say, “I’m mulling it. No doubt this [hike along Hadrian’s Wall/cruise of the Mediterranean/month in Bali] will provide inspiration.”
I love this fantasy.

But who am I kidding? If it ever happens, that’s pretty far down the road. That time between finishing one novel and starting the next? It’s usually a weekend. Sometimes three days. I’m actually trying to plan my writing schedule better so that I finish drafts right before planned weekend or week-long vacations, to give myself a little rebound time.

At this point, the most of a break I feel I can give myself is to switch to editing instead of drafting, or to draft in a different genre than I just finished writing.

One day, when I can afford to take that time off in between, though, I totally will. 

*Note to self: must buy long, fringed silk scarf. 


  1. Ahhh...what a nice fantasy. You better buy the scarf now so you're ready for the rest ;)

  2. What down time? I'm self-published and write in the assembly-line method, with multiple stories in the queue, all in different stages of development.

    1. I think that's how most of us do it - self-published, traditionally published, or hybrid :-)