Confession: it’s been three days since I’ve done anything with my manuscript.
I have some good excuses. On Thursday, I had a much needed evening out with some friends and didn’t get home until late. On Friday, I planned to take a bath and read through a recently edited part, but I got distracted and forgot to bring the pages into the bathroom before sliding into the water. Once I was in, it seemed like too much work to get out to get it. Yesterday, I planned to do some work on it after the kids went to bed, but it snowed during the day so I had to shovel and by the time I got done, I was tired and only had a little time before I needed to go to bed, so I watched an episode of 30 Rock and folded laundry instead. See? None of those are objectively terrible reasons not to work on a manuscript.
But not working on your novel is a habit you can slip into pretty easily. So even if you’ve got good reasons why you couldn’t or didn’t work, it’s important not to let them sap your momentum. Think of it this way: writing is like riding a bike. It’s hard to get the bike going, but once you do it doesn’t take a lot to keep it going. And if you’ve got some good momentum going, then going uphill is a whole lot easier. And that good momentum can also make those downhill sections even more exhilarating.
So, taking a day or two off is like just stopping for a quick water break. It can be restorative. If you time it correctly, then getting back on the bike and moving again can be no problem. It can be easy and fun, even. It’s just that you don’t want to decide to turn that water break into getting all the way off the bike and, I don’t know, buying a condo and storing the bike in the garage so that you can feel guilty every time you walk past it.
Today, I’m getting back on the bike. The only way to get to the end of this thing is to keep moving forward. So you’ve got to keep pedaling.