The Inbetween Sag

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No, I’m not talking physical fitness (or lack thereof) or that mattress you need to replace. I’m talking about that time between when you have something on deadline, and something that’s not.

With deadlines, there is pressure to finish, to revise, to get it done on time. You have a specific time to be done, and you tend to adjust accordingly. Essentially you have the feel of someone requiring you to work. But when you don’t have a deadline, you have to make yourself work. This time of the sag is a double-edge sword.

This time between without pressure to accomplish anything particular is necessary and vital. It’s a time to refresh, rejuvenate, and try out new stories and ideas. To play and to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a time to fail or succeed–to try and see what happens. At the same time, it’s a time to be lazy and do nothing. That’s okay too. Sometimes you need lazy time. But then, what happens if the lazy time goes on and you don’t write? There’s the other edge of the sword.

I’m in a sag time. I’m writing and playing and trying to make sure that I’m getting things accomplished. After all, I like to eat and to live. So at some point I have to be productive and I can’t wait too long. But deciding how long is personal. The thing to remember is that sag time is key to mental happiness and growing as a writer. You just can’t lose your discipline while you sag. 

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7 comments to The Inbetween Sag

  • Diana, you’ll make it. Writing is what you do and I know your sag will plump up … er, did that come out right?

    This is something I think about from time to time. I’m in that extended sag of pre-publication. Not having sent anything out yet and not having self-published, the only external pressure I get now is the mild one from my local writers group which meets weekly. It’s tough to create discipline in the first place, let alone maintain it! I suppose all creative people have the problem of going through bursts of productivity then wondering what comes next. Well, maybe Asimov didn’t. It must have been cool to be him.

    I’ll be interested to hear how you eventually come out of your sag. I like to know how successful writers handle their less-productive down time. Meantime, keep your charger plugged in.

  • I’m in a prolonged sag right now, Di, so I know what you’re talking about. I’ve been doing a lot — A LOT — of promotional stuff, but I haven’t done nearly as much writing as I would like and I’m starting to get grouchy, which means I need to get back to it soon. Grouchiness is always a sign that I haven’t been creative for too long.

  • quillet

    As someone who has no actual deadlines, being as yet unpublished, my life is a constant sag. Er…that sounds depressing! But really, it just means I have to discipline myself and impose my own deadlines. I’m not always good at that (as you say, I like to eat and live), but sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries. I always know when it’s time to stop being lazy, though, because like David I start to get grouchy if I don’t write enough. The best thing about taking some lazy time is that it helps me rediscover how much I love writing. It’s *so* much more fun than other kinds of playing!

  • Owllady: Plumping. I hope it’s the writing plumping and not me, but I’m a little worried . . . I’m thinking the way out is just what David says–you gotta write. It’s a drive you can’t ignore.

    David–I’ve seen your promo stuff. I’ve been thinking how amazing that push has been.

    Quillet: I’m in the same grouchy boat. Or maybe that’s because I have to go back to the day job soon. . .

  • Gypsyharper

    I’m in that as-yet-unpublished-must-impose-discipline-on-self sag as well. I also just finished graduate school in the spring and have LOTS of stuff I want to get done that was put off for a long time (including writing!). I’m frustrated because I haven’t been able to dive right into all those other projects. I guess I needed some of that lazy, recharging time. And now that the worst of the exhaustion has passed, I’m slowly starting to make some progress. I still need more a more disciplined schedule for my writing though. If I let the lazy-sag go on for too long, I definitely get grouchy and depressed.

  • sagablessed

    Sometimes we need that sag: no writing, no pressure, no nothing. I am in one of those today, and it was much needed. Refresh, rejuvinate, renew. Except this, I write nothing today. Why, because I need ‘me’ time. I think many authores, published and to be forget that sometimes these sags are the world’s way of saying, “Chill, baby. Chill.”
    After today, I think I can approach my writing with w fresh hand, clear eye, and new joy.

  • Having moved back to Canada and started a new job in the last few months, I find myself struggling to write, which is why I’m up early, checking MW. I’m setting up a schedule for writing, just like I work from 830 to 430, I’m going to write from 7-9. I just find “I’ll write later” doesn’t work. If it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done. Working so far this week.

    Good luck to you all in sag time.
    Cheers,
    NGD