catching your (writing) breath

I wrote this a few days ago, then saw an article on the same topic. In any case, these are my thoughts on taking a holiday from writing.

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We’ve all heard the advice write every dayA number of authors say this is the key to success.

I understand this makes sense in certain situations—when on a deadline, when needing to get an idea on the page, or when words are flowing and you don’t dare stop or even want to stop. But as a hard-and-fast rule? I’m not so sure.

Two or three times a year, I stop writing. I stop for a week, a few weeks, occasionally longer. This time out starts because my ideas grow stale, or because I lose faith in my writing. Sometimes it’s linked to an event in my personal life, or follows a painful writing rejection. Other times I just feel overwhelmed.

Whatever the cause, I try not to fight it (A few years ago, I’d fight desperately, trying to bludgeon stories into life. This resulted in truly terrible work). Sometimes life feels like a race, and it’s hard to step away, but I believe writing vacations are important. Sometimes, the best option is to rest and renew.

Things that have helped (for me) during time off from writing:

Walking.
Watching a movie.
Seeing a friend.
Discovering a new place—a forest, a cafe, an art gallery.
Reading.

I’m still learning to take a break, and to know that it will renew creativity.

As of today, I haven’t written for a week (not counting blog posts 🙂). Already my brain is sending inspiration—Look at this! How about that? I’m looking forward to writing again.

What about you—do you take writing breaks? If not, how do you care for your writing mojo?

8 Comments

Filed under the writing life

8 responses to “catching your (writing) breath

  1. Glad to read you are looking after yourself, Fiona. It’s an important skill for writers. Breaks seem really important to me. Regular days off. Weekends away. Planned long holidays. Enjoy your down time.

    • Thank you Maureen. Spent most of today reading The Weekend by Charlotte Wood (in between loads of washing, buying fruit & vege, etc!) & really enjoyed it. Hope things are going well with you. x

  2. Thanks for this post, Fiona. I agree, writing vacations can be very helpful and I think it is important to not feel guilty about taking breaks. They can enrich your writing. I have just had a three day break from writing and feel much better for it. I’ve done a lot of weeding, which has been very satisfying because of its immediate results, and a lot of reading. “Weeding and Reading” when a break from writing is needed!

    • Ooh weeding and reading has a lovely ring to it 🙂 I’m not a gardener but I am a bit of a baker, often taking time off to make a banana cake. Same thing as for weeding – instant results!

  3. Why do we feel guilty when we take a break from writing when every other job gives you time off and holidays? I feel lazy when I’m not writing, which means I never relax completely or enjoy my time off. It also means I never really step away from my desk. My mind’s always there and my WIP’s still on my mind. The trials and turmoils of this writing life!

    • I know what you mean Louise, I have that same nagging feeling when I’m not writing. I try to remind myself that reading, walking, spending time with others and seeing new things all stimulate creativity. And that thinking is a huge part of writing. But still that guilt is hard to quash!

  4. This makes all kinds of sense! I haven’t really taken a ‘break’ from writing since I got sick, in part because being sick means I miss so many days I could be writing, so I feel like I’m always trying to make up for lost time. But also I feel like writing is a break from illness, where I get to forget about it for a while. Right now, that’s working well for me.

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