A Day Off From Writing: the Characters’ Relief

Every so often I take a day off from writing. Not because I want to. I resist and avoid and cling to my desk in a desperate fashion. Friends persuade and entice me outside. And it is always good, always nourishing and refreshing. There’s a planned outing later this week, and I can just picture my characters’ reactions when they realise I’m not there at the keyboard…

Sharp-witted Justin notices first. He looks up, listens and checks again. “She’s gone out!”

Every character sags with relief. They go back to bed and sleep in till lunchtime. Later, they shuffle downstairs to get tea and food, and they sit in silence in the great hall of the castle.

People who usually snipe and gripe at each other, pass the sugar without word. Two of them exchange a wry smile, for without my omniscient presence to keep them busy, they can sense what’s coming; not the details, but the shadow of something bad ahead, something they would avoid if they could. But like my day out, it cannot be avoided. It has to happen.

Quote from TENDU by Ailish Sinclair. A day off from writing.

They head to bed early, exhausted by the hours of doing nothing, tired from the rest and relaxation.

No arguments. No sex. No laughter.

How boring! These people need me. Maybe I shouldn’t take a day off from writing after all…

The desk of Scottish author Ailish Sinclair when she's not having a day off from writing.

They didn’t get left alone for long, those poor characters. I soon pulled them all back into the drama and the story.

And that story will be out later in 2023, in the form of a contemporary three-book series called A Dancer’s Journey. As you can see from my editor’s comment below, Justin and the others were completely justified in being relieved that I was gone.

Diabolical - a day off from writing
Diabolical…

More on the series:

My Historical Novels

I put the characters through the proverbial wringer in these too!

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Thereโ€™s also a love story.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

All novels are available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

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51 Replies to “A Day Off From Writing: the Characters’ Relief”

  1. Love this idea! Have you read Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books? He does a great take on what characters in books might get up to when the story isn’t happening… ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Alas, I don’t think so. I’m sometimes so pleased when I discover how tweaking a few words can make their situation so much worse. I do love them though ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Laughing here. I never thought about my characters idling when I wasn’t writing. Hilarious. I think they push me about when I write more than I push them about, but it comes to the same thing in the end. Lovely photographs!

  3. Loved it, but reading was tinged with sadness… Why ?
    Next week, we should be in Scotland.. Instead, we’re must avoid leaving our village.
    Holiday rescheduled again, for November this year.. Also, via a lost Kindle, and a print copy delivered somewhere else, reading your book at last,

  4. loved this, woke about 2 a.m, wondering what one of my characters was up to.
    Sadly, no holiday in Scotland next week – second time. Instead, we must avoid leaving our village.
    Holiday re-booked, for November this year….

  5. Thanks so much for the follow You have a lovely site, how very Gothic that you can write about and in old castle settings โ€“ what an awesome writing space you must have!

    Love your affection for and sense of connection to your characters. They become so real donโ€™t they! I would love to see what Mr Shakespeareโ€™s characters got up to when he was out and about โ€“ probably a lot of violence and mayhem but also a bit of what is probably in A Dancerโ€™s Journey too, the rompy lot that they were! An interesting angle to take โ€“ I never considered how awful it must be for characters to have to wait for us to be doing other things before they can do whatever weโ€™re going to write up for them months from now. Someone should write a book about what characters do when the writer is away

    1. You’re so very welcome ๐Ÿ™‚ It was good fun to play with this concept. There are a few books that do this too – Jasper Ffordeโ€™s Thursday Next books are mentioned here in the comments.

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