I think I may have. I started writing a post on my blog about the characters in my crime novel, "Cleansing Eden."

 

This came out instead:

 

It's easy to get burned out on a novel, especially one that took as long to write as "Cleansing Eden." Five years of hard writing, editing, querying, waiting and repeating.

This blog post was going to go over the main characters of the novel. I was going to explain their motivations, quirks and backgrounds, plus some classic quotes. I'd review the younger man, the older man, June and the celebrities.

But it's not. I'm "done" with the novel for right now. After five years of thinking about these characters, it's tough to revisit them.

That isn't to say I've turned my back on the novel for good. Far from it. When I was the projectionist at a movie theater, I thought the smell or sight of popcorn would forever put my guts on the floor. Never again would I place "butter topping" over some inverted kernels.

You know what? My wife and I still get popcorn every time we go to the movies. I'll heat some 'corn in oil for home movie night, too. I just needed time to get nostalgic about my time shooting film at 10 screens.

That's the same concept behind my avoidance of "Cleansing Eden." I stared at those pages for so long, I need a break.

I've been focusing on sending out reviews for the book, which I don't mind. I've also developed the Maynard Soloman character for a series of short stories I plan to publish through Trestle Press. The first installment, a collaboration with Giovanni Gelati, is due out this month. It's called, "Who Whacked the Blogger?" It's crime fiction, but with a humorous bent. It clocks in at a light 6,000 words - a length I didn't think I could write effectively.

Of course, I'll eventually burn out on the cantankerous Maynard Soloman. I'll get that fire in my belly for "Cleansing Eden" or the next novel, "Green Shoots." Maybe something else will come up, too. I'm finding this brave new world of e-books is moving fast. This is shaping up to be the most productive year of my writing life.

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That's how I know when something is finished, when I'm working on it and realize I can't bear to look at it anymore. That's when it's time to let it sit for a few weeks, then do the finals and wish it well.

In this case, I'm done with it. It's been published. I wanted to talk about the characters in the book on my blog. That's when I ran into trouble.

 

The strategy remains the same. Let it sit.

ROFL! Exactly, Dana. When I get that sick of a book that's when I know it's finished for good.


I think a lot of writers suffer from thinking we have to make a book perfect. The truth is, you can go over a book a million times and it still won't be perfect. We defeat ourselves just for procrastinating. I knew a writer who actually had a fear of submitting his work. He couldn't stand letting it go but learned that he'd have to put that baby out there sometime.

 

I tried to think.  Probably not.  That's not to say I don't get days when I just can't concentrate and keep walking away from it.  Putting it aside for a while is probably a good idea.

 

I do know I got sick of the trilogy after rewriting the whole thing once and then gathering rejections. At this point I don't give a damn what happens to it.  Self-publish it?  Why not?.  If it doesn't involve more hassles than waiting eight months already to see a contract.  Otherwise, put it on Kindle.

I've never gotten to the point your describing, but I've only written one book (or "am writing," depending on what qualifies as "written"), so check with me in ten years.

A curious observation, though: I don't like talking about the book very much at all, except in the most general terms. Writing about my characters on my blog is something I probably wouldn't do in any case. It's as if they exist in their own world and have their own lives and if anyone is curious about them they can find out by reading the book. I dunno. It just feels wrong somehow to talk about them to other people. Is this weird?

Not weird at all. Characters are authors' babies. No one will think of them the same way. My goal with that post was to introduce them to readers who hadn't read the book or sample chapters. Just a different way of bringing them to the audience.

Yes.  After editing and revising over and over again, I never want to see the thing again.  It usually takes at least a year before I can look at it again with any sort of equanimity, and a couple of years before I can read it again without remembering every word I wrote.

Hi Ben,

I've just Blogged  ... How to Nurture the Writer within ... ie. How to STOP Writer Burn-Out .

 You might like to check out ... http://www.karentyrrell.com

 

Good Luck, Ben ... Karen :))

I like your checklist of this to do to stave off writer burn-out.

 

•    Immerse in glorious books and explore who’s writing what.
•    Allow my thoughts to wander and freely associate new ideas, new possibilities.
•    Meditate daily to increase my creativity… Einstein did it!
•    Experience life as it happens with my friends and family. Relax, socialize and exercise.
•    Grab unique opportunities as they arise.
•    Vow a Self-Love pledge, promising to live the healthiest life that I can. Promising to believe in myself and in my talents.
•    Consider the BIG PICTURE of my future writing career and the next pro-active steps.

Hell yes! Excuse my language. Man, I'm a writer who ends up doing a lot of rewrites most of the time so I can end up working on one book 4 or 5 times. The recent one just released I rewrote that sucker four times and the one before that probably close to 6. So I think it's natural for writers to get burned out. We might love our characters and books but you get tired of the same story and plot when you gotta go over it a ton of times. That's why it's best to take breaks in between rewrites and edits because you really can get in a funk where you just don't even wanna look at that story. LOL! We eventually get over it, but with one of my books I was so sick of it that by the time it was released I didn't even wanna read the published copy until months later. LOL! The things us writers go through.


Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net

Kind of like...kids?

Yes, I've done it twice now and, each time, I've been surprised and frightened, unable to imagine I'd feel this way.  I simply finish it, and then I cannot revisit the novel for several months, or if I do, I get physically sick (headaches, edgy, irritable, right down surly). 

 

The pacing in Cleansing Eden, the time it took you to research and write it, must have been part of the cause for your avoidance, Benjamin, don't you think?  I felt burned out last year when I finished my first.  Picking up speed this year, as you obviously have.  I got one done and am starting three others.  Maybe . . . just spending five years--or even one--on a novel is simply an invitation to burnout? 

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