Many of you noticed that last week I didn’t publish my customary Wednesday post. There’s a couple reasons for that. The main one was that Wednesday was July 4th, Independence Day for the United States of America (where I live), and a national holiday. I decided to honor that holiday by taking the time off, not just off my day job, but off from my writing work as well. I spent the time with family and thoroughly enjoyed stepping away from the keyboard for a spell.
However, I also just thought it was time for a break. That’s right, I take breaks from writing and I highly encourage you all to do so as well. I’m not saying that you have carte blanche to stop writing every time it gets hard, but I am saying that I think it’s important to stop writing every once and awhile and take some time for yourself. Why? I’ll tell you.
- You need to live a life worth writing about.
If all you’re doing is writing twenty-four hours a day, you’re going to run out of things to say. Your imagination might be endless, but imagination needs reality to feed off of and reality can be hard to see from behind a blank page. It’s important to try, every once and awhile, to get outside of the writing and live a life worth writing about. Go out and meet some interesting people, see some amazing sights, do something you’ve never done before – then you can come back and write about it all.
- You need to let the words breathe.
Words are like fine wine. Many times they need to be decanted and left to breathe before they achieve true greatness. If you’ve just finished writing something, walk away. Don’t jump right into another project, don’t try to sit down and edit what you’ve just written, just walk away. Try engaging in some other activity for a while or simply relax and bask in the glory of a hard task well done – you’ve gotten words on paper, and that is no mean feat. There will be time for editing later, but for now, let the words be.
- You need to make time for reading.
If you’re writing all the time, you’re missing an important step in the creative writing process – reading. All the authors I’ve come across agree that if you want to become a great writer the first and most important step is to become a great, prolific, and lifelong reader. Reading widens your vocabulary, increases your brainpower and fuels that ever so important component, your imagination. Don’t neglect it!
- You need to avoid burnout.
All the above are different ways to say the same thing – you want to avoid burning out. It’s not the end of the world to step away from the writing desk if you feel yourself wearing thin; it’s called self-care. Know your limits and when you feel yourself approaching them, don’t push harder: go out and live your life, let the words breathe, take some time for reading, just do whatever it is you have to do to relax and avoid burnout. Recharge and come back to the writing later; it’ll still be there.