Coffee & A Chat: Why You Should Take Breaks

Let’s be real, the main point of this post is a reminder to myself, who is terrible, truly awful, at taking breaks. *sigh*

I’ve been writing for over six years now though, and I’ve learned a lot of things in that time. A big one, is that it is important to take breaks and let yourself recharge and just clear your mind. It’s really hard to do but it’s really important. Trust me, I learned this because I nearly burnt out forcing myself to write so much, so fast, all the time, never taking a break for longer than a day. Since then, I’ve really worked on my goals. I’m a very goal oriented person, so I need to set myself goals but they don’t need to be impossible goals, in fact, they should be ones I can easily accomplish with wiggle room. I also had to learnt to be okay with myself when I didn’t reach my supposedly but not always actually easy to accomplish goals. That’s part of life. (Or so I’ve been told.)

Point being, TAKING PERIODIC BREAKS FROM WRITING IS GOOD FOR YOUR WRITING, YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, AND OTHER THINGS I’M SURE.

I’m reminding myself of this because I’ve been working on a novel intensely for awhile now. The newest round of revisions I restarted halfway through three times before finally finishing it and I love the way it turned out and I’m so happy with it and I know I need/deserve a break from writing at least for a few days or even a week but I have this problem wherein I feel like… I’m not doing enough.

I’m not doing enough. Even though I’ve only been on break for TWO DAYS after working for two to three months straight on this draft! I feel like I need to go, go, go. Get started on the next thing except I don’t even know what I want to work on next because I’m a little burned out at the moment. And THAT’S OKAY. IF ONLY I COULD CONVINCE MY BRAIN OF THAT.

So, here are a few reasons to keep in mind why you NEED to take a break once in a while.

  • You WILL burn out if you don’t give yourself a break when you need it. If you just keep pushing and pushing and pushing, you’ll get to a point where you can’t even look at your novel and you just want to curl in a ball and sob.

 

  • It’s GOOD for your writing. In my experience, if I push myself when I know I need a break, when I’m not really ready to jump into the next draft or the next project and I do it anyway, I end up hating whatever I’m working on with a passion and then I can’t look at it again for at least a year.

 

  • While it can feel like taking a break is being lazy and you’re not getting enough done and you’re falling behind, that’s not true. Even when you’re not actively writing you’re still thinking about your project and even when you’re not you’re refilling your creative well with reading or watching TV or you know doing that thing where you go outside, sometimes with other people, and like…do things? All of this will help you come back to your writing with clear eyes and just, help you to be in a better head space, which is GOOD.

 

  • Everyone needs a break! Everyone! This is actually something my best friend had to point out to me. Take any old job, any job. Everyone gets a weekend even if it’s not on the actual weekend. They usually get time off, they get vacation. WRITER’S GET THIS TOO! You DON’T have to write every single day to be a successful writer. You deserve a day or two off a week! Giving yourself a break to just relax and have fun and not think about your current WIP for a bit can only help you. Even bestselling authors have days off of writing and take breaks.

Things to do while taking a break that will still help you feel productive:

  1. Consume inspiration. Read. Watch movies. Listen to music. Refill your creative well. I can’t stress how important and helpful this is. Especially if you’re feeling drained and even if you’re not because you might not realize that this is exactly what you need to do.
  2. Read books on craft/listen to podcasts/watch YouTube videos. There’s so much out there on writing. I’ve been watching a lot of writers on YouTube recently, and I love the Writing Excuses podcast especially, I also just recently read Save The Cat (HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK). It’s really inspiring to hear other writer’s talk about craft and to read about craft and the knowledge you gain is priceless.
  3. Brainstorm something new. Now, I don’t mean outline or write a first draft. I mean throw ideas in a notebook and see what happens. Because it’s fun and freeing and can remind you of why you love writing so much in the first place.

I’m out of ideas because it’s 7am and I’ve been up since 3 so this is where I will end this post. Take. Breaks. Fellow. Writers. This includes the dreaded setting a draft aside for a bit before editing it, btw.

Happy writing!

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2 thoughts on “Coffee & A Chat: Why You Should Take Breaks

  1. Shay, I’m going to tell you something that I’ve told… probably no one else in the blogosphere yet: I’m taking an indefinite break from the novel I was working on for over a year. The short version is, I sort-of-unintentionally took 2 weeks off from the draft back in May (coinciding with a vacation), and after that I had a hard time getting my head back into the story. In fact, my head never got back into it, and eventually my heart lost interest as well. :/ Unfortunately it took me about 2 months to realize what was going on, and I felt like I burnt myself out as a result…. and it was not pretty.

    I’ve sort of been in “fiction recuperating” mode since then. Still writing (mainly poetry and blog posts), but I’m kicking around a short story idea…. and I think I’m going to start writing it next week. I feel close enough to recovered and ready to do it. And I’m glad that I gave myself some time to rest and figure things out, rather than jump into something new right away.

    Like

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