Tuesday, 6 January 2015

What do writers DO between books?

There’s no doubt that writing has taken over my life. Ever since those tentative beginnings in 2008, when I thought; ‘I know a whole novel is beyond me, but maybe I could try 2,500 words’…then found I couldn’t stop.

One minute I was just having a go – the next I was listed on a literary agent’s website alongside HG Wells! Surreal or what?

To be fair, I was looking for something new, having been a Psychotherapist for 15 years and ending up burnt out. I love images and words – so it's a natural step from therapy to fiction. But nevertheless, I am now obsessed. I admit it. I think books, I dream books, I live inside books...

These days, I write full time. I’ve just sent my latest novel off to my beta-readers and lo and behold, I feel totally lost… What do other writers do when they’re not writing? I know in my bones, it’s too soon to start a new book. I’ve written two novels this year and – *foof* – I just need to stop for a bit. You wouldn’t expect a marathon runner to towel themselves down and embark on another 26 miles, now would you? (Not unless you’re the 65 year old Japanese guy in 2009, who ran 52 consecutive marathons…gleaned that from a Christmas sports game).

Yesterday, I found myself washing the kitchen floor – so it looks like it could be time for all those neglected domestic tasks that don’t usually get a look in. I feel restless, though. I’ve got that feeling that I should BE somewhere, DOING something. Ah yes, at my desk – writing. Problem is – I don’t have a story bursting to be written, just yet. I feel I need to fill up my ‘creative well’ a little, in the meantime.

So, what to do? Read – yes – reading lots and outside my own genre – is good, and analysing aspirational books and checking out what kind of thriller themes are getting published. Catch up with social media, articles, blogs, guest posts, prepare the next newsletter – yes – I’m chugging along with all those. Research? Well – I’ve got no concrete story ideas yet, so no specific research is required. Looking for ideas? Yes – I’m keeping an eye open for items in the news, Radio 4, podcasts, book reviews, jacket blurbs…

But none of it quite hits the spot like writing does. None of it gives me that amazing feeling of being ‘in the zone’ – where I come to my senses after hours have whooshed by and I find a new scene in my book has been born. I keep coming back to the wonderful quote by Gloria Steinem:

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.” 

What do other writers do between books? Let me know…
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.

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