It’s the last day of July, and I have just finished 1) shovelling the revised academic-press manuscript off to the editor who might be interested in it, and 2) organizing all of my medieval history manuscripts, maps, charts, and books into a format where I can simply pick it up and start work on October 1.

So I made it. Hit the deadline. Would be looking forward to my two-month break, which starts tomorrow, but I feel totally flattened.

The longer I write, the less I seem to understand the creative process. But here are four principles I do know:

1. Inspiration only comes to those who plant their bottoms in their chairs for scheduled work times. The best tool in a writer’s kit is, as Elizabeth George puts it, “high quality bum glue.”
2. Writing is a way of thinking. You may not know what you’re saying when you start putting words down on paper, but as the words go down, the ideas behind them slowly begin to illuminate themselves.
3. Writing drains your mental and emotional “tank,” and the only way to refill it is to stop writing for a little while and read, read, read. (With the TV off.)
4. Hitting a big writing deadline never feels like a victory. It feels like a blank spot.

So here I am on the last day of work, looking forward to my vacation.


I’ll let you know how tomorrow morning feels….

Showing 7 comments
  • Janice in NJ

    Shouldn’t you be reading tomorrow morning… instead of writing about it? 🙂


  • Lori

    I’m going to forward this to my husband who’s in the throes of writing his first textbook. He’s written hundreds of papers and journal articles but the book is going to kill him.

    Happy vacation!

  • mary kathryn

    You’ll feel better in a week. Besides reading, be sure to listen to beautiful music, gaze into treetops (or the ocean works well…) and sit in the dark (not for too long). Hope your “tank” is full again soon!

  • Shannon

    Thanks for all the writing you do so that we may be blessed! My children and I benefit greatly through your efforts! I pray that you have a wonderful vacation! Thank you!

  • Milton Hodges

    Hi Susan,

    This is Milton Hodges. Do you remember me? I am at the office but wanted you check your info email account. It explains why I am sending you a comment.

    Have a very blessed vacation!

  • Colleen in NS

    Go enjoy your sabbatical and try to forget about writing projects! Two months is a good break to enjoy some other parts of life, and time always gives a person some perspective. You have accomplished a LOT – now go hug your kids. 🙂



  • Meredith

    Wow, you so get it! I just hit a big writing deadline and yeah, it felt … like a big blank spot! Yoicks. And then I tried to write for a week but barely eked out anything… it was like the tank was empty!!! Right, so I read a couple of books this weekend and hey presto! the effort is no longer turning my face inside out.

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