Author Wide Open

by Jeff Abbott on October 16, 2008

It’s always a weird feeling after you’ve finished a major rewrite and turned in a book. I am always happy, and eager to spend more time with my family, but I often feel a bit at a loss–like a carpenter who’s just built a big staircase and still feels like he needs a hammer and nail in his hands.
If there is another writing project that needs finishing (such as a short story), I will complete it at this point, using the adrenaline left over from finishing the book.
I am often a bit grumpy at odd times. I am eager to spend time with my family but I keep thinking about writing at weird times.
I start thinking hard about what will come next (assuming another rewrite of the project is not needed). I usually have an absolute flood of ideas at this point and I don’t know quite what to do with them other than to write them down and stare at them and wonder if what I’m seeing is an idea or part of a bigger jigsaw of ideas. You don’t want to strangle ideas in the cradle but I also tend, just having moved out of heavy editing/rewrite mode, to still be rather critical at this point. Right now I can beat up hard on ideas. I have to watch that, let them grow if they can. But I have to ask myself three questions:
-do I want to spend the next year with this idea?
-will my readers want to spend their money on this idea?
-will this idea expand my readership?
That’s the fertilizer I toss on the seeds of the ideas.
I feel a desire to watch TV, movies, read books, listen to music. To sit and think with paper and pen, or with laptop, in quiet, without interruption. Doodling is good.
I want to clean my office, get my life back to its normal level of organization. So I can get the next project organized.
I want to play with my kids and have wine with my wife.
I might want to jam out air guitar in my studio; this would be a good time to drag my introverted self to a karaoke bar. (Was that too much information?) This is also a good time for me to give talks: not writing so much, I am ready to talk about writing. I’m giving two speeches this week and then speaking to a book club next week. The timing is perfect.
This is when I do more long-term planning, and vow to stick to it, and try to remember what derails me from long-term planning. (I have to say, I have made major strides on this in the past couple of years.)
What do you do after a big project is done?

    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    Kirk October 16, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I do a lot of what you do: drink some wine, watch some TV (I’m not a big TV watcher, other than movies and series on DVD), listen to music (Grateful Dead or Mahler symphonies, LOUD), and hang out and do totally useless things. In fact, often, after finishing something big, I find my mind simply can’t be creative again or focus on complex things, so I just futz around for a while. Gradually, I get back to work, because I don’t have _only_ big projects like you do. Often it’s the demands of editors or clients that get me going again.

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