The Guilt-Free Break

July 6, 2017

“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…