The Amazing Power of Timeout

I never thought I would say this, but here goes: Monday again? Yay!

No, I haven’t gone crazy. It was just one of those weekends.

I have written before about taking the weekend off from writing, something I planned to do again this weekend.

Pookie and I went out to a romantic dinner at Friendlies (yes, the chain) on Friday, where my mother-in-law and sister-in-law joined up for desert. Other than the fact that it was a three-hour dinner at a restaurant that is one step above fast food, we had a nice time.

While there, we planned out the weekend, from some shopping we needed to do, to a mini-project around the house, to a Sunday dress-rehearsal for Willy Wonka. On top of that, we had realized that our DVR was ninety-four percent full, which isn’t a great prospect for the upcoming two weeks, where we don’t have a single night where we don’t have plans.

Saturday morning, we got up, did our shopping (including a trip to Lowe’s that included wandering around the store for an hour and dreaming about the projects we couldn’t afford). We came home and hung the new curtain rod in the living room, ironed the curtains, and settled in with the DVR with plans of being completely unproductive the rest of the day.

We cleaned house on the DVR. We have a tendency to record a lot of new shows, watch them once, decide they are horrible, and delete the remaining recorded episodes. (Ah, the analogies I could make to writing/reading in that. I need to write that down as a future blog idea!) We did a lot of that on Saturday. Seriously—we went from ninety-six percent full to twelve. Yay!

As we lay there watching a lot of bad television, something crazy happened. I suddenly found myself with writing inspiration. I knew what my novel needed!

I grabbed my computer and started frantically typing my thoughts before I lost them. I was thrilled!

OK, so maybe that doesn’t sound so crazy. Inspiration strikes all the time, right?

For the past couple months, I have been working on a new book. I researched (or over-researched) every aspect of it, know the characters and the setting inside and out. I have a two-inch binder filled with all of the research.

Unfortunately, now that I am trying to write it, I have been struggling. Even I am finding the story boring, which doesn’t bode well for anyone who may one day read it.

So, inspiration was what I needed. Desperately. But here’s the weird part. For months, I have thought about nothing but this story (writing-wise). Yet, when inspiration finally struck, it didn’t cure what ailed my current book. It wasn’t an idea for a new book either (thank goodness—I have enough of those!)

Nope, when inspiration struck, it took me back to my original novel. The one I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The one I put in “timeout” back in January.

I said at the time that I just needed some time and distance from that story, but, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I would ever get back to it. But, it seems that time and distance was exactly what I needed.

So, my first novel is back in my good graces, finally out of timeout. The one I have been working on will replace it. Hopefully, it, too will find inspiration in time. Until then, I am thrilled to finally be excited about a Monday, the start of a week full of writing (or re-writing).

Have you ever to put a work in progress in timeout?  Did you return to it? How did you know when you were ready to pull it back off the shelf? Did the time away help to make it is stronger story?

About Susi Borath

Susi Borath finds time to write between freelance marketing jobs, minor league baseball games, creating new cookie recipes, and juggling more laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at or follow @susiborath on Twitter.
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3 Responses to The Amazing Power of Timeout

  1. Kaye Peters says:

    My NaNo novel is in jail for offending my eyes, but I guess that’s what happens when you write a 72,000 word novel in one month with so much caffeine running through your body that half of the words were typed just by your jittery fingers “resting” at the keyboard.

    I’m glad inspiration came out of nowhere and reunited you with your first work. Have fun and just go with it!

  2. Amy Cavenaugh says:

    Great blog! 🙂 My current WIP I actually began in 2008 as a screenplay. I came back to it around this time last year and completely rewrote it as a novel, but didn’t finish. I put it in timeout in the summer, tried a different story and have now come back to it for another complete rewrite! I think it is now the best it’s ever been and maybe as good as it’s going to get. 😉 Still making changes but my goal is to finish it and try to publish within the next six months. We’ll see if that happens! So glad that inspiration has struck for you! It can be the greatest of natural highs. 🙂

  3. 2blu2btru says:

    Yes, I’ve put stories in time out, but they’ve mostly been unfinished attempts. I know that I am ready to take them out of timeout when one of three things happens:

    If I begin to think about it again randomly, I will pick it up and read it (possibly rewriting or continuing on).
    I reread what I have and my brain continues the story when I reach the end of the written material.
    I get a stroke of inspiration (as you did) and return to it.

    I am great with character development. Most of my stories end up in timeout because I don’t know what will happen (that isn’t cliché or overused) or don’t have a suitable plot twist in mind. These are the hardest things for me to “get,” so some of those stories stand in the corner for a long time.

    Congrats on getting some inspiration (and clearly that DVR queue!). 😀

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