Hit Reset

 Writing is exhausting. Forget all those movies and TV shows where an author sits down in front of their computer or typewriter or notebook and whips out a masterpiece without effort. The scene in The Shining where Shelley Duvall discovers Jack Nicholson has typed (*spoiler alert*) nothing but “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” feels more accurate. So after I finish a manuscript, whether it’s a first draft or an edit, I have to take a break from writing to recharge my mental and emotional batteries. This time around, I got sick right after I turned my manuscript in. I could feel the sinusitis coming on the night I sent the email to my editor. I don’t recommend getting sick. I have to remember that lack of sleep and self-care at my age is not as easy to bounce back from as when I was in college. Fortunately, a bout of illness is not usually the way I recover from a bout of writing. Usually, I watch crime shows. Seeing crime portrayed in a medium different from the one I work in helps me get out of my head and lets me study story development, characterization, and pacing without second- (and third- and fourth-) guessing every word I just wrote. (I confess I binge-watched Netflix while fighting sinusitis but I went for mindless entertainment rather than quality drama. It’s hard to concentrate while under the influence of decongestants.) I also try to do something in a field unrelated to writing. Right now, that’s embroidery. I embroider because it lets me exercise a set of creative muscles that were neglected while working on my fiction. Speaking of exercise, I decided it’s time I did some of that, too. I signed up with a Pilates studio. Two reformer classes and I already feel good, physically as well as mentally. What are some ways you recharge after finishing an all-consuming project?

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