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When is not #Writing, Writing? #IWSG

By 03/01/2018books
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booksThe year-end vacation was a break of dreams: a few days in the middle of an Indonesian village reading books and more books, and listening to no noise other than that of birds. Well, a distant cow or two, and the rather demanding cats who made sure we shared our breakfasts, with their long, purr-ey miaows. This was followed by a lot of time with family and friends.

The last few months (years) have been a marathon of writing, editing, revising, so it felt great to just lie back and do nothing other than read. I was on the brink of a burnout before the break, but that seems to have been staved off, at least for now.

Reading for pleasure has taken on a new appeal. The month of January, I have more reading and travel planned, and same with February. I’ll let my next novel marinate for a while before getting to the drawing board and drafting ahead.

I’ve realized that even when I’m not writing, I’m still writing: filling up my well of creativity and storytelling. Not saying I’m not going to write at all in the coming weeks, but it won’t be a priority till March.

I’ll blog, of course. Next Monday, this blog turns ten. (I know. I can’t believe it either!)

What about you? Are you a writer or reader, or both? How did the year-end break treat you? What reading, writing and life plans have you made for the new year? What books have you read lately?


IWSG Writing groupThis post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! Co-hosts this month are: Tyrean MartinsonEllen @ The Cynical SailorMegan MorganJennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria.

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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70 Comments

  • Gary says:

    Congratulations on ten years of blogging. That’s quite an achievement in dedication and hard work. Very good point on writing, editing, writing, editing. Every so often one needs to step back and breathe, have a break and let those imagination wells refill.

    My own aspirations this year are reading more, which is on track thus far. Writing is going well too. Although The A to Z challenge was exhausting because it was themed around my own manuscripts and the process triggered a new character and concept for another novel. The challenge set up backstory so that counts as writing yes ?

  • Living and taking a break from writing are just as important as writing. The trick is to find the balance.

  • Ali says:

    Yes, even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. I have vaguely wanted to be a writer all my life. I used to hide away writing stories as a child. I wrote a journal and poetry through adolescence and my twenties, but stopped believing I would ever be a writer. Last year I took up a chance opportunity, and wrote a book, which was published. From that moment I saw myself as a writer. I even put down “author” alongside my day job when filling out a form, which gave me great pleasure! I have really started taking myself seriously as a writer and have written a second book, and now can’t stop. The more you write, the more you write. (As this comment shows!!)

  • Hello everyone I am new here (@ wordpress) ,actually impressed by the quality of conversation running here and especially by this article. I am not a professional writer, but always inspired to translate my feelings and thoughts into some quotes, I would like your support to improve my skills and techniques… follow me to check what I have new everyday… (you may find multi-languages don’t hesitate to ask me for a translation) … counting on you.

  • Hi! I’m an aspiring writer and I really liked your posts and followed you as a result. Please check out my blog and posts and follow me back!

  • Viola Bleu says:

    After 63 efficiently delivered replies, you’ll not notice this one along when the tearowels at the bottom of the ironing pile (oh, whoops, that my ironing pile
    ?) but thanks for asking.
    Do you know, for me, late December and early January saw me really getting to grip with the blogging lark. I’ve been at it now 5 months so I’m an old band.
    50 posts and 200 vaguely interested readers; I’m truly loving it! ??
    I’ve joined the NRA along with 299 other lucky members who get to visit their conference and workshops and meet some really proper grown up peeps. Very exciting! (Small matter of 80,000 words needing to be ready to submit by August!!)

  • Your plans are well deserved!

  • Amazing! Maybe you could check out my travel blog… 🙂

  • Great post! I agree that sometimes not writing does become writing in its own way. People always say that the best writers read!

  • Anand Bose says:

    Your autobiography is an interesting read. It’s so interesting to know how a writer’s consciousness works. Anand Bose from Kerala

  • TEN YEARS! I haven’t been around for all ten, but WOW! That’s impressive. Congratulations, and keep it going!

  • Lonna Hill says:

    Ten years of blogging! That’s amazing! Congrats!

    I took a break from writing during the winter holiday and now I’m refreshed and giving another big push to get my novel finished.

    I’ve been reading a lot too. I read fifty books in 2017 and will read fifty again this year. Every writer needs to be reading, but it’s always hard for me to know what the balance should be. Is there a magic number of books an aspiring writer should be reading? I’m always looking for a formula and still haven’t found it yet. Maybe there isn’t one.

  • Well, I’m having a reading slump, and it’s weird. I’ve had writers’ block before, but never readers’ block! But everything I pick up these days, I’m not getting into, I’m just not catching the flow – except gardening books!!

    I can’t explain it, but gardening books, I’m in, straight away. I want to know all about soil types and pruning practices. Go figure…

    Congrats on 10 years, such an awesome milestone – hope 2018 is full of celebrations for you!

    Natalie

  • jmh says:

    I am definitely both, and I believe all writers should be readers. That said, I read fewer books last year than ever before. I found it more difficult to focus. I still read 65 or 66 in the year, but I flunked my Goodreads challenge for the first time.

    I feel like I’m needing to shut off my brain more and more these days when I’m not writing, and reading requires me to think.

  • I’ve heard someone say that there are only two ways a writer spends his/her time: 1) writing, 2) preparing to write. 🙂

  • When you are a writer, it’s hard to observe the world and not think of ways to use your observations in writing, even if you are not working on anything specific.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, spot on. I keep making mental notes and snapshots throughout.

  • Congratulationson your blogaversary! In honor of that, and of you, there’s this: http://jahangiri.us/2017/liebster-award/

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks Holly! I’ve had a policy of not accepting and participating in awards for some years now, but I love that you thought of me. I enjoy our chats, and am sure we’ll continue to be in touch via our blogs and twitter!

  • upasna1987 says:

    I read on most of the days of a week. Congrats on your 10th Bogversary Damyanti.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s a great habit, Upasna! And thanks for your wishes– my 10th Blogiversary post will go up soonish.

  • Congrats for the blogversary. The world of good books is like the mouth watering jalebis and fortunate few are surrounded by good reading. I have quite a few and now reading Shantaram’s sequel, The Mountain Shadow.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Vishal– you’ve been a huge support over the months and years. Glad that you’re reading (I spent my entire Saturday reading, too, what luxury!!). I must read Shantaram.

  • rationalraj2000 says:

    “I’ve realized that even when I’m not writing, I’m still writing: filling up my well of creativity and storytelling”- Very important insight! All the best for your reading and writing in the months ahead!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for your wishes, and I wish you all the best in the new year as well!

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    That seems like a good plan, Damyanti! I hope you enjoy the journey as a writer, writing to your heart’s content!
    Last year, I lagged behind in my reading goals (reading blogposts isn’t included in ‘Reading’, according to me.) So, this year, after mulling over which book to begin the year with, I picked up ‘The English Teacher’ by R.K. Narayan. The one who gave us ‘Malgudi Days’…and am I glad I chose this book!
    Hoping this trend continues through the year.
    WIsh you the best for your writing and reading goals for 2018! Enjoy the journey, my dear!
    Also, a big THANK YOU, for reading every post of mine! You are such a darling!
    <3

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Shilpa, I’m only sorry I don’t get to comment oftener, but I do read all your posts. I must limit my blogging time, and that means I mostly end up spreading ‘likes’.

      Narayan is a wonderful author.

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Ah, the joy of reading for pleasure. One of life’s greatest delights. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      yes, absolutely. I feel very rich and blessed when I can read, uninterrupted.

  • Nikita says:

    Happy New Year 🙂 I do want to write daily but for now I manage 2-3 posts a week. I need to give my book blog a serious thought!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Happy New Year! Blogging thrice a week is wonderful– I can barely manage once a week– but am hoping to take it to two.

  • sowmiaow says:

    I was very excited to see Lee Child’s book on the cover picture of your post 😀 I try to do both – more reading, less writing. Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. Thank you for reading my escapades!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks! Pls add your blog link to your gravatar, so others can read your link, too!

  • jm4805 says:

    I write pretty much daily; slowly putting up. Short stories, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure, magic realism. Big on always having a book to read, just finished some stuff by Ambroise Bierce; going into Neil Gaiman.

  • Deb says:

    Happy Blogaversary! After NaNo, I revised another project and then just relaxed for the rest of December. Trying to get back into the grind now.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks!

      I’ve done a fair amount of relaxing in December, and plan to get a few unfinished projects done before I delve back into novel-drafting again.

      All the best with your writing!

  • Yes, take break from writing, especially if you fill some of the space with reading. I’ve had several months of not writing, mostly for practical reasons, but scenes have been building in my mind and if they are any good, they will stay and take root. I just started writing again today.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hilary, I never really take a break from writing, because other than my fiction, I average 50k words a year on my blog alone. But yeah, sometimes, after intense bouts of fiction, it feels good to just relax and lie back, reading.

  • Glynis Jolly says:

    I’m both, though I have been doing more writing than reading the last few years.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yeah, that was me, last year. This year I hope to divide my time equally between reading and writing!

  • P V Ariel says:

    Hi D
    So glad to be here after a bit gap.
    Indeed good to read your break and write and write 🙂
    Yes, we can’t sit without pushing our pens!!!
    Keep going
    May lot of good things bring in this year too!
    Keep sharing.
    Season’s Greetings to you and your readers
    Best
    ~ Phil

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hi Phil, thanks for your visit. I read your posts on G+

      Happy New Year to you and yours!

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Good to know your break did you good, not only in the healing department but the writing department, too. I’m taking a week’s holiday in March. You’re the first person on the interwebs to hear of it, but I don’t suppose you’ll be the last lol

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yay for your March Holiday!

      My plan for this year is to treat each day like a holiday–because if I take joy in each chore, it becomes a pleasure.

      While cooking yesterday, it struck me how fortunate I was to be able to cook a dish on a Sunday in a world where so many starve. I think my life is improving now that I have a renewed appreciation of everything it contains. It is all perspective.

  • Kala Ravi says:

    I totally agree with you Damyanti, even when one is not actually in the act of writing, the mind is subconsciously collecting away ideas and little snippets of observation for use later. In fact I think such breaks are ideal to avoid burnouts.I had a bad reading 2017 and I hope the new year sees me reading more. Best wishes for the new year!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yep, more subconscious collections, and less burnouts!

      Thanks, and here’s hoping 2018 is a good reading year for both of us 🙂

  • sukrisblog says:

    Wow congratulations on your tenth.. this is just the beginning for me. Its a daily learning process here. Feels great to know so many people, ideas, thoughts and such wonderful communities like IWSG. Will bookmark and check it out again soon.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks!

      The blogging community is very kind. Check out the advice tab on this site from other bloggers–they give tons of helpful tips.

  • arlene says:

    I am more of a reader I think. Congrats Damyanti!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m more of a reader, too. Which is why I feel so bad I slipped up on my reading last year.

  • Wow, 10 years is a long time. Congrats!! I just finished reading the Shadow of Bones Trilogy. It was excellent if you like speculative fiction. Your vacation sounds absolutely delightful. Wishing you all the best in 2018!!

  • Shailaja V says:

    Congrats on the blog turning ten! Always a wonderful thing when milestones come around.

    Wishing you a year filled with books and relaxation much like your last bit of 2017 🙂

  • hilarymb says:

    Interesting Damyanti – my blog turns 10 next week too … as too another celebration: age! I may not be writing books etc … but I’m always mentally drafting or working round ideas … so always writing – even if not writing … !! Glad you had a happy relaxed time … take 2018 slowly and peacefully and all the very best – cheers Hilary

  • ccyager says:

    I’m reading “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin, and while I enjoy all the political intrigue, I’m finding that I’m not a huge fan. Ah well. Since I lost my job just before Christmas, I had a lot more time during the holidays to myself while I also began another job search. I prefer quiet holidays so I spent last month’s reading, watching movies, and writing. Of course writers write even when they’re not at their desks! I think a lot about what I’m working on, and living life is a writer’s raw material. I’m glad you’re feeling so burned out and can step back and enjoy what you’re doing. I’m looking forward to getting a new job in 2018 — one that is truly a good fit for me — and I hope, no more drama around my finances and medical insurance! All the best to you for 2018!

  • absolutely both. I read I think from S. King that without reading, there is no writing. Paraphrased. But reading different genres and consistently is part of my routine. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation!

  • I’m determined to return to reading for pleasure this year. I miss that more than anything. If all goes as planned, I’ll be taking time for more travel, too. As you’ve said, you’re always writing even when you’re not at your desk with your computer or a pen in hand. Ideas come from so many different places, so I’m off to some of those places. Here’s to a wonderful 2018 for us both.

  • JT Twissel says:

    I read just about anything – even when I’m writing. Ten years – wow! Congrats!

  • Shalini says:

    Ah. I couldn’t read much last year. So now I have decided that I would read at least one book per week. And wow. Congratulations on your tenth. Many more to come. Keep writing!

  • Congrats on ten years!!!
    I took a break in December, letting the season of holidays and extra family and friend gatherings wrap its warmth around me. I took some much-needed walks in different places (not just down my street) and did a tiny bit of writing in my journal. It was a good month to refill the creativity well and now I’m writing again and loving it.
    I hope you have a wonderful rest, relax, travel, and recharge month! Happy 2018!

  • fenster says:

    Ten years! That is a great accomplishment. Well done.
    I’m envious of the calm place you’re residing. It must be a wonderful sensation. I wish you all the best.

  • Your blog turns 10!Thats amazing.I just turned 3.Yes filling up the well is very important .All experiences for writers are research .So enjoy this !A very Happy new year to you .

  • Good that you found a welcome break. Wish you a great year ahead.

  • Traveling and reading sounds like the best way of spending a vacation. Congrats on the 10th year anniversary of your blog too. Happy holidaying!

  • Anand Bose says:

    Interesting narrative. Anand Bose from Kerala

  • J.R.Bee says:

    Yeah, recharging is a must, glad you had a good break

  • Glad you recharged. Sounds like you need to do it more often.

  • I’m getting ready for a January vacation, too. The first time I escape winter for 2 weeks in the sun. I’m hoping it will recharge my batteries. Best of luck to you in 2018.

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