Writers write everyday is a common adage among the author crowd. I’m not so sure it’s true for the rest of the creative world. Surely, an actor is no less an actor if he doesn’t act in a movie every day of his life. Nature photographers can’t photograph beautiful flowers on days the weather is all thunderstorms and hail.
I think the true statement is this: when on deadlines, a writer writes every day.
Deadlines aside, it’s important, I think, to take a break from the project you’re working on sometimes. Even more important if you’ve been working on it for a long time, and you’re hitting a huge stumbling block.
Maybe you’ve sent out 280 queries and haven’t heard from a single agent.
Maybe you’ve been trying to fix a plot hole for six months and your betas are still getting lost in your story’s confusing narrative.
Maybe you’ve totally lost the idea of the story and every word seems like gobbleygook.
This need for space and time away from your art isn’t just a creative person problem. Many professionals tout the benefits of a mental heath day, like in this article from INC.com and this one, from the Huffington Post, provides clear examples of signs you need a break.
So, take a day to clean the house, or go for a run, or knit. At least, that’s how I spend my days off. You might have different hobbies. Clear your mind, and tackle some non-creative pesky tasks on your to-do list. I keep a tab of “worn-out day activities” on my to-do list app, (the incredible 2Do app if you’re curious) so that on mentally rainy days, I can still feel productive by completing little tasks.
Here’s my warning. It’s very easy to let one recharging day become a recharging week. Or a month. And then, suddenly, you’ve lost your flow on your project, and you have no interest in ever putting your butt back in a chair. So, the minute you decide it’s a recharging day, grab your phone or computer, and add a couple timers scheduled for tomorrow and the next day. If you have the functionality, add little reminders about how much you love your creative endeavors. You can even add reminders of what you need to work on next.
Here’s a screenshot of my phone for tomorrow, since I took a break today.
So, that’s my plan to give my brain a break, without losing my place in my writing. What about you? When do you know it’s time for a break? How do you get back to work?