It’s Okay To Take A Break

Sometimes taking a break can make you more productive than ever.  Sometimes you don’t even recognize that you need a break but then you get these little life nudges that say, “Hey, stop! You’re pushing too fast!”

Do you ever get the feeling that “pushing” causes more resistance than if you were to gently pull your ideas forward?

Before I was a writing instructor and coach, early in my career days, I worked in an engineering environment where new ideas floated around all day long. Of course, just as in writing or any creative endeavor, ideas are easy; it’s what you do with the ideas that matter.

I noticed that engineers who took time out to get feedback from others gathered more ideas that created even more momentum for their projects. So when these guys (all men but 1 woman at the time) took a break, they weren’t slackers. They were feeding the forward momentum of their projects in a way that forcing or “pushing” would have never worked.

You might need a break if:

  • you question if what you’re doing is working.
  • you’re feeling depleted of fresh ideas.
  • every day seems a struggle to get yourself writing again.
  • you’re stuck with no idea for what’s next.
  • you’ve stopped doing anything but feel guilty for doing nothing.

The antidote: Take a break to feed your forward momentum:

Day 1 – Have a “nothing day” where you leave your writing project completely alone.

Day 2 – Make a list of questions you have or things that bother you about your current project or writing process. It’s okay if this list is long and hairy and disorganized. Think of it as a brain dump of your frustrations.

Day 3 – Make another list of ALL potential solutions. Censor NOTHING. Everything counts!

Day 4 – Seek opinions of others. Share your concerns with a trusted writing friend, colleague, or professional, such as a writing coach. Brainstorm ideas together for possible next steps.

Day 5 – Sort through winning ideas and map out a calendarized next step plan for your writing.

Day 6 – Take another “nothing day” and truly make it an open day free of project anxiety.

Day 7 – Return to your writing project ready, relaxed and renewed by the fresh ideas that will pull you through to success!

{Please pass this writing tip along to others.}

6 thoughts on “It’s Okay To Take A Break

  1. Somehow you always post the right words at the right time. I fell asleep on a tiny, uncomfortable couch yesterday afternoon. I never fall asleep during the day. I’ve been physically working hard on the farm, so it was the kind of exhaustion that just took me down. So today, I’m taking your advice. Thanks.

    • Aww… Darrelyn, when that happens, you HAVE been working too hard. And today is the perfect day for taking a break. It’s a great day to enjoy time with family, which actually often spurs even more ideas for stories, characters, and settings. I know the break today and anytime you take it in the future will renew the verve you always bring to your writing. Thanks for stopping by. I *heart* you :-)

  2. Yes, no question I need a break after 31 days of the 2011 Blogathon I just completed! And you give some great tips on how to do that– now, I need to figure out when! :)

    • Julia, you rocked it with the Blogathon. That’s how I knew to stop by your blog too. Congratulations on all your successes. What’s next for you? s

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