I hit the halfway mark of my rough, rough, rough draft for Book Two a week and a half ago and figured that was a good stopping place. Our family was scheduled to drive down and make our first visit to Disneyland a few days after that. Between planning what to pack, washing what to pack, and packing what to pack, I knew I wouldn't be concentrating on Dana's latest adventures in Blossom Valley. But I decided I couldn't waste all that time, so instead I plotted what I could accomplish while I was at Disneyland.
With the straight and boring drive down I-5 and the time I'd spend on a bench while my youngest napped, I figured I could at least think about where the story was at and where it was going. I made an outline of everything that had happened in the book already, so that I could look at the summary and see if the scenes offered enough variety, if anything was too repetitive, or if I had any gaping holes to fill. Then I made a list of questions, including whether I needed a stronger motive for the killer and what clues would point to his guilt. I even threw in a page that listed my original descriptions of all the characters as a reminder.
With all those papers tucked into my backpack, I threw the pack in the car, ready to solve all my plot problems. And that's pretty much where everything stayed for the majority of the trip. Coasting down I-5, only 45 minutes outside the Bay Area, I reasoned that I had hours and hours to tackle my problems. Why start so close to home? Once at the hotel, we got caught up in unpacking, finding dinner, and taking the kids to the pool. And at Disneyland, my youngest barely napped, and when he did, all I could hear was the deafening roar of the thousands and thousands of parkgoers walking past our bench. Do you have any idea how many people are at Disneyland during the summer? People watching is way more fun than trying to think of a name for the gas station owner's wife in my latest book.
But all was not lost. Finally, after barely thinking about my book for three days, I got out my notes and notebook on the drive home. And lo and behold, all that time off actually helped. With a complete break from writing, I'm rejuvenated and ready to tackle the second half. The answers to most of my questions were glaringly obvious and I even thought up some new ideas. Sometimes, you just need to take a vacation, both physically and mentally, to clear out the clutter and start fresh.