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The Between-Book Blues

Right now I'm in the middle of what Sweetie calls PCD, Post-Completion Depression. PCD is what happens when you finish a project you've been working on for a long time, and now you don't know what to do with yourself. You spend your free time bored out of your mind; lolling around on the bed, studying shadows on the ceiling; but unwilling to start any new projects because you're still drained from the last one. In the field of writing, PCD might also be called BBB: the Between-Book Blues.

I spent the last two years on Kagemusha. Now that it's finished—or as finished as it will be until an editor tells me otherwise—I'm in that awkward limbo where I hate having nothing to do while I wait from replies from agents, but I can't bring myself to start the next book in the queue.

Next in line is The Rose House, a working title that sounds like "women's fiction" but isn't. I already have the detailed roster of characters, the narrative outline, and a more-or-less solid idea of how I'll attack it. I just can't open up Microsoft Word and write it.

Fortunately, BBB doesn't last too long for me—a few days to a week at most. I hate being bored so much that it's impossible for me to mope around forever. Here's a short list of strategies for dealing with BBB that have worked for me.

1. Eat sweets.

Look, you've just accomplished something that most people spend their whole lives wishing they could do, if they could only find the time and knew how to start. You wrote a book. A good book. You deserve some sugar.

My personal recommendations for a healthy BBB-fighting diet: Edwards cookies and cream pie, Breyer's strawberry-cheesecake ice cream, and a home-baked Betty Crocker chocolate cake with pudding in the mix. This is no time for any fat-free, low-calorie, Splenda-sweetened nonsense. Eat with expensive green teas for best results.

2. Find entertainment.

You know how you felt guilty frittering away your evenings watching Netflix when you were "supposed" to be writing? Well, now you don't have to.

When you're trapped in the doldrums of BBB is the best time to read books, watch movies, and maybe play some video games. Not only does it fill up your fun meter, it gets you excited about fiction again. It's physically impossible for me to read other people's books without wanting to work on my own.

3. Do chores.

Take care of the trash and recycling that's been piling up for weeks. Vacuum the neglected carpets and Swiffer the long-suffering floors. Weed out those expired coupons and those jars of spaghetti sauce in the back of the fridge that you couldn't bring yourself to throw away two months ago because there was still a bit left in the bottom.

Being in a clean, orderly environment makes me want to be productive again. Also, the chores force me to...

4. Go outside.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I define "outside" as the inconvenient space between my townhouse, my office, and the grocery store.

But today I spent a few minutes in it—paying the utilities, fussing with the potted violas, putting air in the tires—and you know, it isn't half bad as a place of its own. The sky was covered with a very pretty something that the Internet informs me is called the color blue. And a big burning something called the sun boosted my mood to a level almost cheerful.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt (September 30, 2014, 3:42 pm)

Looking forward to BBB: it means you finished something.

'Always be working on a trilogy' is a usable strategy - when I write The End, it will only be to Book 1, and there will be a lot of promises made to the reader that should pull said reader into Book 2.

Cheesecake. Definitely cheesecake - though it will have to be the Splenda version. Otherwise my brain gets stuck in the mire.

All your solutions sound nice - I need to get my bike out - it has been a horrible week, and I like to ride a bit at least twice every week.


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