This morning over at 10 Minute Novelists a writer asked about how she can get out of the motivationless humdrum she’s in and lamented that it’s been nine days since she’s written.
Can you imagine the horror?
I’m not mocking her. Believe me, I can feel her pain. Not writing is tough. Even tougher than writing.
But think about it, she’s on a nine day hiatus. According to this writer she knows what her story is about and she knows where it’s going. Both are really great things for a writer.
She’s just not “feeling it” as my teenage daughter would say. And she’s seeking advice from other like-minded individuals to find out how she can get out of this funk.
I offered the suggestions that have worked for me:
Engage in a different creative endeavor. (I recently took a weekend sewing class that got my creative juices flowing again.)
Then I dared to say something a little off the cuff:
Embrace the fact that your mind and body want to take a break.
Shocking, I know.
The fact that this concept of writers taking a break is so strange got me thinking –why are writers afraid to take a break? Do you know of any other profession (yes, writing can be more than a hobby) in which society tells people: DO NOT TAKE A BREAK?
My day job is in Health Informatics –we accrue paid time off (PTO) weekly.
My husband works in the airline industry –he gets vacation time and sick time.
My son works in Human Resources –yep, he gets PTO as well.
Nurses work on a weekly rotation.
I know several doctors who take vacations annually and they aren’t lounging on the beach while providing medical care.
Teachers get spring break, winter break, and summers off.
Daycares close for holidays.
Waiters and waitresses don’t work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Yet writers are constantly discouraged from ever taking a break.
Develop a daily writing habit, we’re told.
Don’t wait for the muse to show up, they say.
Write even if you don’t want to, they tell us.
All good advice, believe me. Shoot, I’ve given this very advice to other writers. I believe it to my core.
Yet I also want to believe that we, as writers, can enjoy some time off. That we can take a vacation from our vocation.
And not feel guilty for it.
And not feel like a non-writer for it.
And enjoy it.
Yes, some writers will tell you that not writing is worse than writing through the motivationless humdrum time. Even I will tell you that.
Because it’s true. Writing is fun. Writing is cleansing. Writing is healing.
So is taking a break.
The feel of the sun on your face. The sound of the ocean. The joy of engaging in other activities. All of these things are fun and cleansing and healing too.
So, if you’re a writer, I challenge you to embrace taking a break when your mind and body tell you it needs one. Don’t worry that you won’t go back to writing, because we all know that if you’re a writer, you will.
The feel of a pen or the keyboard will beckon you (typically at night after you’ve tucked yourself in for a good night’s sleep) and the characters of your imagination will speak to you until you listen. The perfect plot twist will present itself and you’ll soon find yourself hunched over your makeshift desk snapping your fingers for a refill of coffee while you ignore the world around you in order to get. Those. Words. On. Paper.
And when that happens, embrace it too. After all, you’re a writer and that’s what we do.