Give Yourself a Break: When the Writer Needs to Stop Writing

Hello, intrepid readers! Today I’ll be sharing the latest nugget of wisdom I’ve collected on the writing road.

During the past couple of months, but especially in the last weeks, I’ve had the chance to do more writing than ever before. Part of this is due to getting a real writing job (see my post about that for more details). While Geekdom House doesn’t require weekly or even monthly articles, I have been taking on a few extra projects with them, which means more quality time between me, my computer, and my articles-in-progress.

The other reason I’ve been writing more is that, due to some personal changes, I have more time to write than ever before, as well as a wide range of projects that demand consistent work. Previously, most of my creative writing was done on a hobby basis. Whenever I miraculously ended up with a spare half-hour or so, I worked on one of my stories. Because free time is often hard to come by, my writing projects had to be content with inconsistent additions and edits.

Suddenly, I not only have a bunch of awesome projects that I’m working on (a couple of short stories and a feature film script, for example), but I actually have the TIME!!! (did I mention time?) to do them! It’s a writer’s dream come true.

However, I have learned something important about myself and about writing for a career. These past few weeks have been my first taste of what it would be like for writing to be my primary occupation, day in and day out. I’ve discovered that, when I have free rein to attack a writing project that I’m passionate about, I get so excited that I can drive myself to mental exhaustion. Eventually I reach a point where my body is aching to move away from my desk and my brain is fed up with staring at a computer screen, but I’m so into the story that I keep pushing myself.

On one hand, this can be a wonderful feeling. That intoxication with a writing project is why I love being a writer in the first place. It’s a rush like nothing else. But the problem is, if I don’t have something to disrupt my writing occasionally, I end up wearing myself out so much that I can’t stand the sight of words. It’s like chocolate: you need moderation or it will make you sick.

Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect that many writers struggle with the same issue. Yes, we love our time with our computers or notebooks, when it’s just us and our story. I have moments where I’m writing and mentally praying, “God, this is SO cool!” I could – and do – spend hours lost in my own storyworld. But I have to step out of it sometimes or I get overwhelmed.

So for all the writers out there who adore their craft, but need some time away from it for the sake of their sanity, here are a few ideas for activities that will refresh you but keep you in the creative mindset you love.

1. Go Outside

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Remember ‘outside’? That place beyond the walls of your writing realm? Yeah, sometimes I forget it’s there, too.

The paradox of being a writer is that we love writing about interesting places, but we forget about actually stepping out of the house and exploring one of our own. Whether you drive to the mountains or go for a walk – or even just drag a chair into a sunny spot in your backyard – your body will thank you for the time away from your writing desk, and so will your brain. If the weather in your area makes going outside a less feasible option, trying wandering around your local library or visiting a new coffee shop.

To make things more interesting, you can always take a camera with you (oh wait, we have those built-in to our phones now…). I find that it helps me explore when I have a camera along to document what I’m seeing (just make sure to ask permission before photographing people). Who knows, you might end up with an idea for your newest story setting.

2. Get Crafty

There are some great websites out there, like Pinterest and Instructables, where you can find a nearly unlimited supply of crafts. Whether you’re trying to make your own lightsaber or build a cabinet, you can find a tutorial for it (don’t forget about video tutorials on YouTube).

Working with my hands is one of the best ways for me to de-stress. I have been known to vent some frustration by doing leatherworking in the garage (it’s very satisfying to pound holes into leather). Cosplay is also a big hobby for me, because I get to be in the creative mindset of a particular fandom. I love the simultaneous challenge to my logic (by figuring out how to create a costume) and my creativity (by making it happen).

3. Make Some Food

That writing brain of yours needs fuel, people! If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at baking or had a new recipe waiting to be tested, there is no time like the present.

When your brain is working hard, you are actually burning fuel so you need to keep yourself fed and hydrated. Aim for quality meals, not just sugar and caffeine because you’re in a hurry to get back to your writing – although there is nothing wrong with taking a break with the occasional bowl of ice cream. 😉

I don’t know about you, but when I’m deep into a writing project, I tend to lose track of time. Before I know it, it’s past mealtime and I’m starving. My personal goal is to get ahold of some good smoothie recipes, because I’m a smoothie lover and those are a fantastic way to get good food on the go.

4. Have a Movie Marathon

There will be times when your eyes are so worn out from staring at a computer screen that this isn’t the best option. However, there is nothing wrong with making a bag of popcorn and plopping down on the couch with your favorite films!

I tend to feel guilty about taking a few hours to just watch some TV. But the truth is, while I don’t believe watching tons of television day after day is healthy, sometimes we need to veg out. Give yourself the chance to recharge by doing something completely fun and frivolous. And guess what, movies are stories too! You’ll be surprised how much inspiration they can give you.

5. Hang Out With Friends

What?! We’re introverted writers – we only socialize with the people in our heads, right?

Actually, I am a very introverted person, but I also feel the most refreshed after some quality time with my best friends. I don’t usually do big gatherings, but I’ll take a day with a couple of my besties over just about anything else. God has put certain people into your life for a reason, and our relationships are where the best stories happen.

In fact, all four of the other suggestions I’ve made in this post would be fantastic with friends as well as solo. If distance or lack of transportation makes it impossible to meet your friend in person, give them a good-old-fashioned phone call or use something like Skype. Plan a special outing or schedule a regular time to meet up so you keep in touch.

I’ve been blessed that many of my friends are also writers, and let me tell you, there is nothing like having a community of Godly, loving friends who can listen to all your triumphs and trials in the writing world!

 

I hope you all enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading as always. Leave a comment below about some fun activities that have worked for you!

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