There are times when it all looks like too much. In those moments, we have to just chill.
I was working on my latest steampunk adventure and found myself fighting with it. Every edit only put me a tiny step closer to the criteria for the story, regardless of the looming deadline. After a couple of hours squeezing out words here and there, I found myself with a headache, eyestrain, and a general sense of feeling cranky.
The solution to all this wasn’t to feel inspired all the sudden. I didn’t reach deep and keep going. I wanted to crumble.
Every edit I made was putting a bigger strain on me. I felt like I was killing the story just to make it fit within the guidelines. Every time I cut off a bit of dialogue or some character development, I felt like I was cutting out a bit of myself.
This is what it means to kill your darlings.
Once I got the story within the guidelines, I realized I need to release a “director’s cut” in the future. If nothing else, it would be a fun alternate angle. I sent the story and breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t want to go back to writing, I just needed to even out my mind and take a breath. I needed to chill.
Chilling, relaxing, letting go, whatever it may be called, is just a way to step away from strain and stress. Allowing the mind and body to stabilize lets later work come at a higher quality. If I had to write more immediately after slicing that story beyond what made me comfortable would be a recipe for crummy storytelling.
If you need a break, take it. You might just need it.