BrooksBlog: Writing Book For 2013

I am working hard on the second of three books that I will publish in a new Shannara trilogy starting in August 2012. The first is already written, and I am halfway through the second. The story is working just fine, the characters are interesting to me and hopefully will be to my readers. They are challenging personalities, but in many cases their life spans are short. Anyway, I am pushing hard to finish all three by mid-2012, and it is getting to me. I have come up against the wall of late – not so much the wall of writer’s block as the wall of writer’s exhaustion. I have to remind myself to step back from the rigors or writing every day and take time off to do nothing. I am always surprised that doing nothing is so useful and refreshing. If I do it right, I can step and away and come back again without losing momentum. But first I have to actually step away. Therein lies the problem. Sometimes I can’t make myself do the stepping back when it is so important to keep going because I know what I want to do and I am excited to do it. But life interferes and I am worn down and I just want to sit and stare out the window or watch the Mariners or read a book or whatever. Seems there ought to be a better answer to this dilemma than just trying to muddle through. But I don’t know what it is.

22 responses to “BrooksBlog: Writing Book For 2013”

  1. There are some good solutions out there. You just have to be willing to look for yourself, and not take everybody else’s word for it – excepting the obvious, of course. I’d suggest maybe taking a walk as a solution to being tired or exhausted, but whatever anybody suggests to you, you need to be willing to do it.

  2. Hmm. Don’t know what to say Terry, my issues are more reversed.

    Pragmatically, maybe you can amplify existing time away. If you’ve written a couple hours in the morning, when lunch time arrives don’t eat at the desk, leave the room. Make yourself a food you enjoy savoring. Be sure lunch is not just a refueling, but a micro-vacation. My cell phone has an annoying alarm (it must be, it wakes me). Set your alarm to say… 3pm, or 7pm and put the alarm in hearing range, but not reaching distance from your desk. When you get up to turn it off also do something fun, or at least stimulating. Plan a break, or grant someone permission to interrupt you once a week, within a range. This could be an afternoon poker game, trip to the bakery, or sure, watching a Mariners game.

    Basically try look forward to the time away from the work as much as the work. (Motivation= Expectation x Desirability).

    Dang it Jim, I’m an engineer, not an advice columnist.

  3. I know the feeling. I have gotten so wrapped up in what I am writing that I forget lunch, let alone a break.One thing you could try is setting a limit on how much to write each day, be it words, pages, or just scenes. Once you’ve reached the limit, that’s it, you’re done – clock out and go enjoy yourself. I’ve tried it, but I have to remind myself to stop. 🙂

  4. You know, I remember reading this little book about writing that says in order to be a writer you have to be very self-disciplined. I can’t remember the words exactly, as he said it, but it came from some book called the magic works, or sometimes it works… sometimes the magic works maybe?

    Point is, from a business world, part of being self-disciplined is to plan for down time too.

    I just remembered something else from that book… It talked about going to experience life for inspiration on things to write about. Things like going to concerts, people watching, things like that…

    Man, I wish I could remember the book…. Or even just the Author….

  5. Take time to stretch. Stretching eases the muscles from long periods of sitting. Take a quick walk around the block to clear your head if you find your mind is getting fuzzy and you can’t see straight. A change of scenery can help to refresh you so you can get back to the business of writing. And it can bring fresh ideas to the story. Another good way to take a break, curl up with your significant other and close your eyes for a few minutes. My hubby will often get stuck on a problem and sometimes when he takes a hug break, he’s been able to come up with a solution because he’s gotten away from staring at that screen and let his mind work out the solution another way.

  6. Hey Terry, your fans really care about you!

    You’ve shared your heart and your heart says you need a break. A break = time and that is something so precious we often don’t want to ‘waist’ it on something other than work.

    But good work requires a happy and healthy body and state of mind. Why not just book up a break – be spontaneous and do it right now. Jump on a train or a plane and hide out somewhere for a week by a lake.

    When you get back you will soon get back into things. Only by then you will be healthier and happier for it. Do a Nike. Just do it!

  7. The sad thing is Terry really can’t take a break and get away from it all. He has to get this second book done by the end of the year. All of this will become clear to you all when we make a wonderful announcement about the Legacy of Shannara trilogy and what Terry is writing afterward. Needless to say, his butt has to be in a chair and he knows it.

    The side effect from that, of course, is he feels he is getting burnt out. But he knows himself pretty well. He takes the breaks he needs. He comes back to Seattle to recharge with culture, family, and friends before returning to the beach where relaxation helps. He’ll be fine.

    Besides, as I said, it’s all for a wonderful cause. More on that later in this year!

  8. Tantalizing tidbits, Shawn! Terry, know that your fans appreciate all the blood, sweat, and writer’s cramp you put in for them. With that being said, if getting away for a long break is out of the question, there are a ton of other options. The question is, what appeals to you? Some people put on good music, close their eyes, and listen. Others take a 30 minute walk. I’d say stop and think about what your favorite hobbies are (besides writing =P) and then find a way to work in mini 30 minute breaks to do what you enjoy. Even if it’s only once a day, you’ll feel rejuvenated when you come back to the table.

  9. I can relate to this situation and the need to step away to refresh oneself.

    One of my own experiences is that at times, my writing stalls because, while I have an outline and plan as to what is supposed to happen, when it comes time to write the actual sequence, I am not sure of the details. I find that I go into a stupor as my mind meanders through the marshes and moors of possibilities. I do laundry, go grocery shopping, mow the yard, sit in the corner and mutter to myself, etc. Then, with sudden fervor, ideas flood forth informing me of the entire sequence. The thoughts thrust their way out of my subconscious like the chestburster in the movie “Alien (1979).”

    When this happens, I often learn new things about my story and my characters. Most recently, I had revealed to me new details of the back-story of one of my obsessed characters, a back-story that explained how she came to be obsessive, which then led to the level of success she has achieved. Such revelations are exhilarating and act as a drug to make the creative writing process addictive.

  10. Mr. Brooks,
    I’m such a fan of your work, but if it is exhausting you this much, I think you need to take a step back and away for a little while, that is if the publishers would let you. I’d rather a first rate Shannara story from a well adjusted happy Terry Brooks, than one that you muddled through because your exhausted. We love the stories, but don’t want you to overexert yourself to get them to us. Don’t kill yourself getting Shannara to us. We can wait. We are your loyal fans after all and had to wait longer than this in the past to get the story out of you. 🙂

  11. You can do it Terry! Breaks are important, and so is seeing other people! I find that often reinvigorates me. Talk to your wife, have the kids/grandkids over for a nice lunch or dinner, anything that gets you involved with other people. People are meant to be with other people.

  12. Recently, I’ve been plugging away at a professional certificate in graphic design. Because of numerous distractions, I’ve found myself nearing the deadline for one of my programs, which thus compounds the stress of completing it. However, because I love it, I find it works better for me to take a day off (even amid the drive to finish prior to the deadline) because when I return to my Mac, so, too, my creative juices and my softly-singing muse have themselves returned from their own holidays to join me in my pleasure-work. You’re just one man — but I look at it like this (no matter what you believe about Him), God created the universe and all things in six days, but then took the seventh off. If a being as large and grandiose as Him takes a break, we with our limited and frail corporeality might consider doing the same. Hope you can find the rest you seek. I am very thankful for what you do and cannot begin to fathom what mental stamina is required of you to tell your compelling stories.

  13. Be intentional with your time, so that you are better able to appreciate it.
    Thank you for all the GREAT books.

  14. Meanwhile, we devoted readers will keep reading between the lines of your blog entries, and guessing about forthcoming books.

  15. The world of Shannara is the reason I started reading this genre. You have already done so much anything else you give us is well above and beyond.

  16. Hey Terry. I am proud of you and the work you do. I hope that you always remember to take the time to step back a bit so that you will always be ready for the next great adventure.
    I am already looking forward to the great novels coming out next year.
    Keep on truckin’.

  17. Raft the river. Pack a lunch and a good bottle of wine and enjoy the elements from which your wonder-filled stories evolve for a few well deserved hours.

  18. As an introvert, I find myself in the same boat more often than I would like. For me, downtime feels like a late night gaming session (mindless fun, yet provides enough adrenaline to stay up) or escaping into a book (which sometimes provides enough adrenaline to stay up later than I should). Of late, I have also turned to working from coffee shops with the logic being that working in a different environment stimulates my brain differently than if I were to work from the office every day.

    BTW…quit reading this…get out and do nothing 🙂

  19. Terry,

    I’m a big fan of all your series. Word/Void has always been the favorite but Shannara was the first. I am concerned.

    “…, but in many cases their life spans are short”. STOP DOING THAT! Interesting characters that die quick are not interesting characters, nor do they become legends.

    Remember Allanon, John Ross, Logan Tom, even Walker Boh. Heros all with legends based around them. You had a new one in Sider Ament but snuffed that out quickly. Same with Inch. I fear this is becomming a habit in your story telling. Don’t sacrifice the heros for minor weaker characters. The world NEEDS the heros.

    So please, develop another one and make him someone people can follow. the Knights are gone, so make a stong druid that can do the job and carry the four lands forward.

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