The Letdown

From my experience, there’s always a bit of a letdown after you complete a big project. You’re not really depressed, but you’re not really as happy as you feel like you should be. There’s this moment of euphoria — OMFG I DID IT I FINISHED — and then you’re just kind of… there. Staring at this thing you’ve created, blinking, and saying, “Huh. There it is.” It happened when I finished my senior thesis, it happened when I completed NaNoWriMo, and it’s happened again now.

This time I knew it was coming, though. I was burnt out from the mad dash that was December and needed a break. I told myself, “It’s ok to feel a little lost for a couple weeks. You just watch as much bad TV as you need to fill the void.”

(Let me tell you, guys. I’ve watched a lot of Scandal over the past few weeks. A lot.)

I set a plan: take January off from writing, and then come February 1, start revisions. This seemed smart — a finite chunk of time, but still long enough to recuperate. I could still putter around a bit, write some blog posts. But no serious writing projects. No serious writing, period. I need the break, a time to regroup my thoughts and energies and feel ready to tackle revisions come February. I need time and space so when I go back to that first draft, I’m able to see the forest for the trees.

But it’s lonely, letting go of a project and suddenly not having that nagging obsession, that storyline running through your head. Not bad, per se. Just a drastic change in pace.

And then one night when I was lying in bed, reading, I remembered. “I had that new book idea I wanted to work on. I’m not writing anything now. I could start work on that.”

And I got so excited about the idea of working on the next project, flushing out these new ideas, feeling that rush once again — and then I shut it down. I mean, let’s be honest here — if I start work on yet another project, I am not going to start revisions in February. Or if I do start revisions… well, that’s not fair to the book I will have just started. It needs its own time, its own devotion.

So I reaffirmed my plan to take off January. No serious writing. Just let my brain relax, drift. Let the fingers lose their cramps and the writer’s slump uncurl.

That is, until I woke up this past Sunday with a full-fledged short story kicking in my head. I got out of bed, went into the office, and started typing. And I was happy. Oh so happy.

Part of the letdown of having finished a big project is one underlying fear: will I have another idea? Will I ever be able to top this? Will this be the last story that ever comes out of me?

It’s good to know the fear is unfounded. It’s good to know the well is not yet dried up, that ideas still spawn in the dark recesses of the brain. The letdown is still there, but there’s a flicker at the end of the tunnel, something beckoning and calling onward.

I’m still not starting revisions until February. But as for January being a total break month… well, sorry, fingers. You may have to get typing once again.

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