Do you need time to ‘refill’ after completing a writing project?

A Spool of Blue Thread coverThe long list for the annual Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) is out, and one of the novels on the list is Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.

Tyler, a prolific writer, is the author of twenty novels.

I read an interesting interview with her in The Guardian, in which she spoke about the down time she needs to have between novels in order to allow a new story line and cast of characters sink in.

Here’s how Tyler explained her post-novel creative process:

The “refilling” between books takes nearly a year. “I always said if you asked a woman who’s just given birth, ‘When are you going to have your next baby?’ she’d say, ‘Whaaat?’”

Loved the comparison. But I was also surprised that an author who has published as much as Tyler regularly takes down-time after a novel… and a full year at that. Even more impressive that she’s managed to publish such a large number of novels.

And what about you, writers? Do you jump into your next project after completing the first? Or do you, too, like to enjoy a ‘refilling’ period post-novel?


  1. Tori J. on March 13, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I definitely need a “refilling” period after finishing a project 😀

    • kimberlysullivan on March 13, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      Hi, Tori. Well, it seems that you’re in very good company! I like this idea of ‘refilling’ after completion of a project…

  2. Catherine on March 14, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I imagine that with a novel it’s completely necessary to ‘regroup’ or at least work on completely unrelated projects. Also after writing a novel one must revise, submit, engage, promote.
    At the moment I am writing more and more short stories and I actually don’t like to tune out after completing a piece. Then there are revisions to do on other pieces, submissions to make and update which use different energies. I think it’s healthy to view the whole process as a job!

    • kimberlysullivan on March 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Like you, Catherine, I generally don’t have a ‘refilling’ period. However, I also find short stories a very interesting way to wind down between novels. Sometimes it’s refreshing to have a smaller slice of time, a limited number of characters, etc. It’s nice to switch between the two. Glad to hear you’re still dedicated to short stories, since I’m enjoying them so much as a reader… : )

  3. ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) on March 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I need a little time – but definitely not a whole year! I need a little time to sort of let my former characters go and allow my new ones to move into my head and make themselves comfortable.

    I’m not a good short story writer, which is too bad, because I think it would make for good downtime writing as the writing is what I miss most after completing a project, especially as the completion stage normally entails daily writing frenzies. The first few days It’s hard to let go of that pace cold turkey

  4. […] Anne Tyler – A Spool of Blue Thread (see my earlier post on Tyler) […]

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