Imagine you’re at a gourmet, five course meal. Between each portion you’re encouraged to enjoy some bread with oil–but you don’t want to eat too much of it and spoil your appetite. Except, if you don’t eat the bread, your appreciation of the next course could be spoiled by the lingering taste of the previous dish.

Imagine you’re at a lovely wine tasting. The winery produces an excellent wine, with several varieties. You want to try them all while you have the chance–what if you miss tasting the one that’s destined to be your favorite? But one flavor blends into the next unless you take a moment between samples to cleanse your palate. So you sniff a tiny cup of coffee beans before tasting the next type of wine.

Now, think of your writing. You’ve finished your story! It’s time for you to let it rest and move on to something else. You might be tempted to rush right into the next project. Or, if you find you can’t switch gears that quickly, you might feel guilty or lazy or worried there’s something wrong with you. 
But all you need is some time to cleanse your palate. 
Take a breather.
Refresh and renew.
Then, you can dive into the new project with all your senses, all your creative efforts focused on the NOW.
Write. Cleanse your palate. Write some more. 
It’s a formula that’s sure to see you over many a bridge between one story and the next. 
Do you “cleanse your palate”? What do you like to do to help you cross that bridge from one story to another?

*p.s. I have decided (Tuesday night) that I am hardcore NiNoWriMo-ing this month. I’m going to write an 80K YA sci fi this month. Wanna join me? My Twitter is ali_cross and the handle is #NiNoWriMo!*
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19 comments on “the value of rest in writing”

  1. Good for you! Wish I could buckle down and write this month, but um, nope.. not gonna happen. 🙁
    Awesome analogy to food. I always have to give my brain a rest for a couple months before diving into a new story. That usually does the trick for me. 🙂

  2. My ideas usually have to simmer for a while. I’ll tinker with them and such but there’ll be spans where I’m not writing or revising. Sometimes I’ll get a short story idea and write that or I’ll tinker with one of the unfinished short stories sitting on my hard drive. But when that lightning strikes and I have an idea that I’m super-excited about, come hell or high water I’ll be working on that one. My books usually involve quite a lot of world-building before I can even start writing so that’s where I get the most “palate cleansing” I suppose, when I’m creating like that and getting immersed in what I’m doing.

    As for the writing, I’m really going to push myself to finish this book this month.

  3. Great analogy, Ali! I “cleanse my palate” between novels by catching up on my reading. There always seems to be a mountain of books waiting for me when I finish a novel, especially this past year with Borders going out of business. I swear, I lose $50 every time I drive past one and a small pile of books materialize in my car.

    Jacquline Carrera @ Adventures in Writerland

  4. This fits so well with writing–I rest by doing some reading “research” and diving into some other YA books! Which I’m doing now, reading MATCHED by Ally Condie. 🙂

  5. I am still working on my first novel, but I have a feeling that to ‘cleanse my palate’ that I will read a lot more than I do now. I always seem to find good ideas from the books and stories I love.

  6. You speak with wisdom! It’s the same with reading books for me. When I can, I like to stop for a day or so before starting the next book just so I can stop to process everything and prepare my brain to switch gears.

    I hear you on the importance of breaks!

    As for Tuesdays, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’ll be endeavoring to work a lot too this month! 🙂

  7. I had to cleanse my blogging palate last month. I was too bogged down by life and my creative juices stopped flowing. But now I feel reenergized! Good luck on your nanowrimo project!

  8. Beautiful analogy, and so true. We miss out when we don’t take the time to cleanse the palate properly. I usually take a non-writing break to cross the bridge, do one of my many other crafty projects.

  9. I don’t cleanse, so much as wallow. I usually only write if I have some sort of panic attack and need to get something on the page, stat. Or a deadline.

    And look at you! Writing 80K this month?? Awesome!

  10. Hmm…I don’t know if I have just one palate cleanser in this case. Usually it goes something like this.

    “Brain, what do you want?”
    “I’m dead.”
    “I know Brain. But what can I DO for you?”
    *Brain answers one of the following: “TV/Baking/Movies/Songwriting/Reading/Writing/Blogging”
    “Okay, Brain. Whatever floats your boat.”

    <3 Gina Blechman
    <3 Gina Blechman

  11. This is something I’m struggling with. My head’s still in “another game” and I’m trying to get into a new one. I think part of the problem is that I don’t know these new characters as well. Oh well. Back to work, right?

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