While I’ll be sharing my montly writing check in for the past month in the next few days, I also wanted to take a moment to talk about how important breaks are. From every creative process. Writers, artists, photographers, bloggers- anyone creating, should embrace breaks just as productivity.
I had taken off this past week to potty train my son. It didn’t go well. He was not ready, and I was okay with that. What was going to be a semi-stressful week became suddenly full of possibilities. I finished a few projects around the house. I spent quality time with my son, I finished my holiday shopping and wrapping, and I managed to catch up on some tv and reading.
What I embraced was a lighter writing week. I try to write 5-6 days a week, but this week I only worked on writing three days, and having a break from it was so nice! I made really great progress on the short stories I worked on, but I also used the time in between writing to relax. Reset. Rethink my goals.
I didn’t realize how much I needed this break until I took it. I was burned out, tired and struggling a bit with the section of my book I was on. I didn’t touch my book all week, and I am glad. I know when I pick it back up next week, the words will come easier.
When I first started writing seriously in college, one week breaks turned into months and sometimes years. Part of me is always afraid that will happen again, but in the past I was writing for the wrong reasons. I didn’t write for myself. I wrote to get published and always, it seemed, I wrote for the future, never the present. Never the past. It does make a difference. It’s important to have goals, I have a million of them. Goals drive us to keep pushing ourselves to get better.
It’s also important to recognize how important the present moments are. Right now, I’m still a long time away from a book publication, but I shifted my focus. I write for the words that exist now. For the feeling writing gives me. Writing makes me happy and brings me joy. I love when a story unfolds the way I want it to. I cling to those moments and hang onto the feeling as much as possible.
What I am trying to say, and maybe it’s more rambling than anything at this point, is writing has moments of sheer productivity where nothing will stop you. But there are moments where you can feel yourself wearing down. The words become forced, and dread kind of fills your gut when you sit down at your computer. That’s when you need to take a break. I usually need a week. Even this week, I didn’t stop completely, I just changed focus on what I was working on and did not set any goals or put any pressure on myself. It helped so much.
This time of year, more than any other, always makes me want to slow down, but I talked to my husband last night, and I said, “Why can’t I allow myself to slow down any other time of the year? Enjoy the breaks and just relax?” And he said (very truthfully) that I never let myself relax because I fill myself with guilt when I’m not being productive. It’s a hard mindset to break out of.
I’m hoping that as this year closes and I start the new year, that I can take more breaks without feelings of guilt weighing me down. If this is something you struggle with, I’d love any tips you have. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this break just a little longer.
But I am excited to see what words fill next week once I sit down again and start working again on my novel.
Ups and downs. We’re humans, after all. I myself enjoy pushing my limits, but even then, there are the peaks and valleys I have to wade through. Some days are better than others. Here’s to keeping on going regardless of where we are in our journey!
Oh, I connect with the “I can’t take breaks because I have guilt” part SO much. Like, so, so much. I don’t have any advice on how to combat it, because I still deal with it (lolsob) but I wanted you to know you’re not alone and I’m so proud of you for taking breaks this week!