Jilly: Time Out

Time OutDo you ever allow yourself the luxury of an unscheduled time out? I don’t do it very often, but I’m declaring one today.

I’m really happy with the way my WIP is shaping up. I wish it would come together faster, and I have lots of discovery work still ahead of me, but I like what I have so far, and I have a clear idea of the remaining scenes that will get me to the end of the first act. I think it will take me about two weeks to get there, and I’m really excited to write it.

I expected to wake up this morning refreshed and raring to begin, but out of nowhere I feel drained and mentally lacklustre. That’s not a feeling I want to infuse my story, and once I get started, I want to write through to the major turning point without losing momentum, so I decided to award myself a day to recharge.

I might think about my story – I almost certainly will – but I won’t set myself any specific tasks. No word-count goals, no problems to solve.

My plan for the day looks something like this:

  • Start with a great cup of coffee. My favorite coffee merchant, HR Higgins, recently acquired some beans from a small estate in Nicaragua called Las Morenitas. I treated myself to some, and I can confirm it’s a great way to begin the day.
  • Spend half an hour or maybe even an hour on my current jigsaw. I might find a few pieces or fill in a whole section. Whatever. It will keep my problem-solving brain ticking over.
  • Cook a good old-fashioned British Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. I bought the beef from a local farm shop in Derbyshire last time I went to visit my mum. It should be delicious, and I’m thinking the perfect accompaniment would be a bottle of excellent Bordeaux wine that my ex-boss gave me for Christmas a few years ago.
  • Watch the final of the ATP Madrid tennis tournament. Regular readers of this blog might remember that I’m a big tennis fan, especially when fellow Brit Andy Murray is playing. Tennis at the top level is an extreme mental test as well as a physical one, and I love to watch how the great players rise to the challenge. A hard-fought match is a great test of character and often stimulates my story brain.
  • Immerse myself in a long, luxurious, steaming hot bath with muscle relaxing salts and a dash of aromatic oil, accompanied by my kindle (sealed in a waterproof freezer bag). I’ll probably re-read an old favorite rather than something new, but I’ll leave myself time to read the whole book before it gets too late.
  • Go to bed early, in crisp, freshly laundered nightwear, on fragrant, freshly laundered sheets.

If all goes to plan, I’ll wake up on Monday morning bursting with inspiration and energy, ready to accompany my heroine Alexis on her adventures.

Fingers crossed! I’ll report back here in due course.

Do you find taking the occasional time-out helps your productivity?

What’s your favorite way to recharge your batteries, physical and/or mental?

12 thoughts on “Jilly: Time Out

  1. That sounds like a great way to relax and recharge. You’re lucky I’m on another continent though or you might find yourself with an unexpected lunch guest.

    I’ve found that taking a time-out from writing every now and again can be a real creativity boost. Taking that break when you have a good idea of what happens next in your story should help you get right back into the story when you’re ready.

    I’ve been taking a time-out of my own this weekend after a very hectic week or two. While there is no fine wine or tennis on the agenda, there is hockey, a favorite book (re-read), and a fizzy-bubble bath.

    Hope we both wind up refreshed and ready to dive into our WIPs.

    • Sorry you’re so far away, Elizabeth – I’d have set a place for you 😉 . I love sport, but hockey is one of the few variants to pass me by – we don’t really see much of it over here. I like a good hockey romance though, so maybe it’s a matter of time.

      Enjoy your mini-break, and here’s seconding the hope that we both go back to our WIPs inspired and raring to write!

  2. That does sound very nice!

    A whole lot of my breaks are unscheduled. For some reason, when I schedule them (“right — I have nothing going on Tuesday night, I’m going to the hot springs” sort of thing), I find reasons not to do them. But when I say, “right, that does it. I’m ignoring the housework, and I’m heading for the baths right now”, it often happens. Proquinity?

    Today’s a lousy day for doing housework, and not a very nice one for relaxing either. All the fields have been freshly plowed, and today we’re in the middle of a dust storm. I can barely see 100 meters. I managed to insulate myself in the public library this morning, but this afternoon? Just want to be gloomy and check out what the internet’s doing. At least I got something done this morning!

    • There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity. Often the best times just happen, while the big celebrations crumble under the weight of expectation. It’s just as well I don’t live near a hot springs though. I’d never get anything done.

      Congratulations on your productive morning. Hope the afternoon isn’t all gloom, and that the dust settles soon!

  3. Quick update. It’s the most gorgeous spring day here, so we just spent a productive couple of hours tidying up our garden, which has exploded in all directions. Now we are not the disgrace of the street any more, which makes me very happy, and I had some good thoughts about my hero’s family as I was wielding the shears. Good times!

    • Oh, lovely! I have a lawn that needs mowing, but . . . there’s a lot to be said for a “wildflower garden”. A lot of good thinking can happen during a gardening session. I’m reminded of when Ekaterin was upset with Miles Vorkosigan, and laid out her weeds like the corpses of soldiers . . . .

  4. It’s Mother’s Day here, so it should contain a phone call (a rare event–we see each other in person more often than we talk on the phone) from my daughter. I’m expecting the call to come late rather than early–I saw on the event calendar that she’s hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch at her restaurant today. (We’re planning to celebrate with a private brunch next Saturday.) I’m also thinking about skipping church and taking the dog over to a nature preserve to look for wildflowers.

    What actually seems to spark my creative jucices is the symphony. Maybe I’ll take along earbuds and listen to music while we walk.

    • Happy Mother’s Day, and great that you get to celebrate it today with a call and next week with your own private brunch! Wildflower hunting sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day.

      Do you have a favourite composer or symphony? Or do you choose different ones depending on your mood or manuscript needs?

      Enjoy your day!

  5. Caught the end of the match – just in time to hear Murray lose! Hope you enjoyed it anyway – and that you’ve had a lovely, relaxing day. I went to a barbecue and played wildly competitive swingball most of the afternoon!

    • Shame (but not really a surprise) about the result, but it was a good game and I enjoyed it anyway. It’s been a good day, and my subconscious must have been working away because I just sat down and sketched the layout of my hero’s house, which I’m going to need tomorrow. I had some other ideas about him too – it was obviously his day! So that’s a bonus.

      Barbecue and swingball sounds great – perfect way to spend an afternoon on the first really nice day of the year.

  6. Your list of recharging activities sounds great! Also a lot of fun. Alas, I am too lazy to do those kinds of things myself. Having fresh sheets and clean sleepwear means laundry. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding means cooking. And then dishes. Lovely gardens means heavy lifting. I am sadly lazy. Recharging for me means lying around reading all day. 🙂

    This reminds me of the time my mother bought a lottery ticket that had a $300 million payout. I asked her, if she won, and because I was her only daughter and I’d always loved her, would she please give me $1 million of it? She wouldn’t even miss it. And she said, “Not if all you’re going to do is lie around all day and read murder mysteries.” On this mother’s day, I’m remembering how they know us too well.

    • Ha! Got you bang to rights, as they say in police procedurals over here. What a great story, and a lovely memory.

      Sadly I don’t think it’s online anywhere, but Little Britain (TV sketch show) had an author character called Dame Sally Markham, who reclines on a fainting couch, eats bonbons and dictates her *hugely successful* romantic novels to her secretary, Miss Grace. Works for me 🙂 .

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