I talk a lot on this blog about the importance of making time to write and protecting your writing time. But equally as important is taking the time to not write. Most writers I know fit writing into a busy life. Maybe you get up early to write before anyone in your house is awake, or maybe you stay up later than anyone to get your words in. Or maybe you write on your lunch break or for an hour or two every morning. No matter when you write or how frequently, giving yourself some time off can be just as important to your finished product as actually writing.
Here are some ways not writing has helped me personally:
1) It’s refreshed my creativity
Have you ever heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty glass?” This has proven to be true for writing too. Taking time to experience the world or take in other forms of creativity have often helped me write better. The ideas for Crossing the Line came when I was watching a movie and not actively thinking about writing or creating.
2) It’s led me to a creative solution that’d had been escaping me
Writers have a habit of overthinking and getting in their own way. Planning time to not write and not think about my story has often allowed ideas and solutions to surface naturally. I discovered a key plot element for Enemy Exposure that had been frustrating me for months when I finally took time away and stopped thinking about it.
3) It keeps burnout at bay
Some people can write every day, but I’ve found when I do I get fried and unproductive in a little over a week. Six days is my max, then I take a day off. If you’re someone who can and needs to write every day, it’s a good idea to have a few days that are lighter than others. Even if you can maintain a more intense schedule now, it’s likely to slow you down and hold you back in the long run.
So, how do you find the extra time?
If you can cut something out of your schedule that isn’t writing, do it. But, given how busy most writers are, I realize that may be asking a bit much. Instead, sacrifice some writing time. I know, I know, this is the opposite of almost every post on this site. But it doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be often. Maybe it’s once a month, or once every other week–whatever you feel like you can do. It may seem like you’re “wasting writing time” but as long as you spend that time in a way that refreshes you, you’re not. Part of being a productive writer is taking care of your brain. Not writing is essential to that. If you need some things to do, I have a whole post on How to Declutter You’re Writing Brain.
As always, I hope this helps!
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Now it’s your turn: How often do you take time away from writing? What refreshes you when you do? Tell me about it in the comments!