The Guilt-Free Break
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
~ Maya Angelou
Last week we were camping so I didn’t have a chance to post. But I did want to post this week and talk about what it’s like to come off an intense writing session, where the pace feels nonstop and the story all-consuming.
The Guilt-Free Break
I have to say that this last month of doing writing-related things (but not writing) amidst non-writing related things has been pretty awesome. I didn’t intend not to write. In fact, if you back at my June 22 post, I was pretty set on jumping into a couple of picture book manuscripts.
But I didn’t.
And I don’t feel bad about it.
That said, I do know it will take a little more effort to ramp things back up, just like it does when I haven’t kept to my regular exercise schedule. But I absolutely needed this break. How do I know? Because I experience all three of my “Take a Break” scenarios:
- Overdoing it. That final push on the novel felt like I was forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other—just write one more rushed scene and then another—waiting for the Finish Line to appear.
- Drained creativity. I couldn’t find my creative groove. My brain felt like mush and I couldn’t imagine there was anything left in there worth mining.
- None of my projects sound fun. Ideas and revisions I was excited about six weeks ago, projects I was looking forward to after I finished the YA draft, seemed like a chore. I had no interest in even thinking about them, let alone working on them.
How Long Are My Breaks?
As long as I need. This one happened to be a month. Not that I wasn’t thinking about other projects, but I didn’t feel an urge to jump in and rewrite/revise. I did things around the house. I critiqued a few short things. I taught a couple of classes. But I didn’t write.
How Do I Know I’m Ready for Writing Re-Entry?
Usually when I start feeling the itch, the urge to get back to a project. That’s often after I’ve taken a step in the direction of writing—brainstorming, reading a previous draft, jotting notes. I’m starting to feel that now.
And I know that next Friday I’ll be getting feedback on the novel. That will get me totally pumped to get back to that story. And before I get into that again, I really do want to get at least two of these picture books into shape for my critique groups.
Ah, a new deadline. I’m starting to feel the urge…
Thank you, Denise! I totally needed this today.
My husband is out of town for two days, and I stayed home for a long-awaited break and relaxation–with no car, no TV. We have been under pressure for about three months (traveling overseas, packing up our home of 30 years, and moving to a much smaller house in the hot desert), and I have felt close to panic many times. Thus the choice to stay home this trip.
But I started feeling guilty about not working on some of my home projects or doing something productive. So I puttered around all morning, and behold, I actually WANTED to do some things I’ve been meaning to do since we moved here. When I finished that, I puttered around on the computer, wondering what to do next. Should I write? Should I work on a lesson I have to give? Should I call one of my kids and see how they’re doing?
Then I found your post in my email, and I thought: this break is for me! So after I post this, I’m going to play Stardew Valley then read a novel. Thanks for validating my need for a break.
All the best!
I am SO SO happy you took the break you needed! It’s amazing how much pressure we put on ourselves to “be productive.” Sometimes what we need most is to do nothing at all or something completely fun like a game or reading. Good for you! I’m so happy the post came at the right time. xo
So true! Thank you.
Great post, Denise! Thank you…I needed it. I’m glad you enjoyed your time off so to speak. Good luck with your upcoming projects and enjoy the remainder of summer:)
Thanks so much, Karin!