This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Hello! The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that there has been a short hiatus in the Write Your Novel series, but I’m back from my sabbatical and raring to go. Which leads me to the thing I’d like to talk about today … taking a break.
I know that my usual answer to any writing woe is ‘keep writing’, but sometimes that’s not enough. In fact, sometimes you need to do exactly the opposite.
While cultivating a workman-like attitude to your writing (backside in chair, daily practice, word count goals) is essential, it’s also worth remembering that creative work is not like other tasks. If your creative soul (subconscious, muse – however you choose to think of it) is broken, you’ll still be able to do some admin, dig a hole, or give great customer service, but you might not be able to write fiction.
The following banner is an affiliate one. That means Writing Tips Oasis receive a small % of the sale if you purchase The Novel Factory, but at no extra cost to you:
Yes, you can force yourself to type words using the awesome power of your will, but if those words are repeatedly and depressingly the wrong ones, or you find that you are utterly miserable the entire time or that you are sitting at your desk staring at a blank screen a lot more than usual, then perhaps you need to walk away.
Just for a little while.Sometimes, too, life gets busy. Yes, anybody can find 20 minutes in the day to write if they really want to, but if you are burned out from finishing a previous novel or are going through a period of intense stress in your day job or some other life event has blind-sided you, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break.
It’s just a book. It’ll wait for you.
Plus, taking a break will give you a chance to refill your creative well by reading loads of good books, watching films and great television and, well, living your life.
If you have a contrary brain like mine, however, you may find that dropping your writing project off your ‘to do’ list immediately makes you want to work on it. The moment my lovely editor agreed to give me a couple of months off from Novelicious (thanks again!), my brain was flooded with ideas for Write Your Novel posts.
The same thing happens the moment I get into the shower or drive the car: my mind starts buzzing with possibilities for stories and my characters get loquacious. I think it’s partly my aforementioned contrariness (I’m physically unable to write so, naturally, my brain decides it wants to do so) and partly to do with the rational mind being partly occupied by a task, freeing up my subconscious to play.
How about you? Do you find you get lots of ideas when you’re doing other things? Have you ever taken a break from writing and did it help?