PSA: This post was first drafted during an obligatory writing break. With popcorn.
Ever since I’ve realized I’m gonna be doing this whole “thirty posts for thirty days” thing, I’ve had the feeling that there should be a disclaimer on top of each and every one of these posts (and stuck to the middle of my forehead, too): Your Mileage May Vary.
There’s probably as many approaches to writing as there are writers in the world. BUT—a-ha, you saw that one coming!—this is the one thing I honestly believe that no writer should skip this November.
It’s easy to think the necessity of taking breaks from writing, regular or when you feel like it, is a thing that happens only to other writers—you know, those writers who write for eight hours at a time, five or six days a week, who make a living off writing (oh, the dreams we’ve all shared), and, generally, have no trouble keeping to their self-imposed minimum daily wordcount.
Well, it you thought that, you’d be wrong, and the only person you’d be hurting is yourself.
Even though you didn’t make your daily wordcount yet, even if you’re not sure you’re gonna be making it at all today, it is my extremely unhumble opinion that you need to take breaks. Even when you’re rushing to finish whatever you’ve started, typing as hell to meet that dreaded November 30th (which, at the time I’m typing this, can’t seem further off if it sat underneath a Christmas tree, wrapped with a bow), you need a break. Unless you have a habit of dreaming about electrical cattle.
It doesn’t have to be a long break, nor does it have to be scheduled—actually, I can think of nothing worse than breaks which need to fit in a spreadsheet—it just needs to happen. (Similar to your novel, actually.) And—and here’s the fun part—you can do anything during the break, other than writing. You have, basically, free reign. You can read. Watch something. I’d say wash or clean something, too, but you can do that while you write, can’t you? (Procrastination doesn’t count as taking an actual break.) Eat something—although, you should probably do that while you write, too, unless you’re, like, extra fast, and you’re done with your daily wordcount before you manage to get hungry. Do. Anything. Else.
And then dive right back into the godforsaken novel, because that’s what we’re here for, this November.
This is by no means substantiated by any sort of research (to my knowledge—I, uh, didn’t even look), but I have a hunch taking breaks helps with one (or all!) of the following:
your back / your hands / your knees / your eyes / your brain / your pets / your significant other / your scheming inner plotter
I’ve read, on different occasions, how taking a break after you’ve just finished writing a novel helps you come back to edit that novel with a fresh pair of eyes. In my past experience, it only makes it harder. (Short attention span, I’m looking right at ya.) But short, enjoyable, mid-writing breaks which help air your brain out enough for it to be ready to produce new, sexy, high quality content—yes, please, take these kind of breaks. And often.
Because thirty days is a long, long time. Nobody wants to get brainfried before December 1st.
And, if nothing else, taking breaks gives you time to read—or write—posts about writing. Duh.
Photo by Adrian Snood.