“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.”
—Unknown

3 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Your Writing

I know how it is. It’s a three-day weekend. You get caught up in the barbecues, the family time, the sunshine, the sales at the mall… and whatever else. You sleep in and soak it up.

Then Tuesday morning comes, you drag yourself out of bed, and as you sip that cup of coffee you realize, oh man, you haven’t even thought about that manuscript for an entire three days.

3 Reasons You Should Take a Break From Your Writing

Photo by Living In Monrovia (Creative Commons). Adapted by The Write Practice.

If you’re like me, what you feel next is a huge rush of guilt—how could you be such a slacker? But the truth is, I need to just chill out a little (and so do the rest of you writing workaholics).

When you’re squeezing your passion projects like fiction writing in around the rest of your life, a holiday weekend feels like it should be used to bust booty on those non-work projects. And sure, if the mood strikes you, go ahead and do it. But the truth is, a genuine vacation from all your projects can do brain some good.

Here are three reasons why you should take a break:

1. Fend Off Burnout

We’ve all felt it before. When you’re go-go-go all the time, shifting from one project to the next, it wears you down. At first it may feel exhilarating to knock out your to-dos and see the word count add up. But soon, you start losing focus. You feel tired. After a while, you stop enjoying your writing time at all, because it’s just too much. By taking breaks, you can stop and even prevent the burnout cycle.

2. New Perspective

You know those infamous moments of brilliance in the shower? Those happen because in the shower, your brain engages in what is called passive thinking. In short, that means your brain keeps chewing on a problem in new ways when you stop trying to force it. So the key to fixing that plot point you’re stuck on could just be to stop trying to fix it.

3. Refreshed Mind

When you stop working, you get the rest your body and brain so badly need. Nothing helps you hit the reset button like some solid sleep, so go ahead and sleep in just this once. It’s really very nourishing.

Stop Working, Hit the Reset Button

There’s just no getting around it—sometimes the very best thing for your brain is to stop working it so hard.

A holiday weekend gives us a perfect time to pause and refresh, so don’t come back tomorrow feeling guilty for the lost productivity.

Instead, take a deep breath, notice how good and refreshed you feel, and let that power you as you get back down to business.

How about you? When you take a break from writing, what do you do? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

No really, step away from the keyboard. For today’s practice, share something fun you’ve done this weekend in the comments. And don’t forget to support other readers by responding to their comments too!

About Emily Wenstrom

By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.

  • So what am I doing on this fine Memorial Day weekend? Working!

    Ouch!

    Thanks for the kick in the pants, Emily!

    Best wishes,

    Carrie

    • Susan Barker

      That’s okay. I worked also.

    • Hah, well, trust your own rhythms, Carrie — take breaks when it makes sense for YOU.

  • Nina Rubinstein Alonso Hathawa

    I take a break with non verbal things, gardening, sweaty hours digging in the dirt.

  • Suzanne Kelly

    thank you for the advice; have been ill, and making myself feel guilty for not working. Most of my holidays get taken over by one writing project or another as well; am resolved to down tools on my next break.

  • Susan Barker

    Aside from working, I did put down the writing screen and raised my favorite video computer game and played for awhile. A relaxing game of bejeweled. Also shared family time.

    • Bejeweled is so relaxing!

    • Sounds fun!

    • LilianGardner

      I love playing Bejeweled, but try not.

    • Gary G Little

      That’s what I shoulda done … killed some Brutes and Grunts in HALO …

      • Susan Barker

        Yeah, sometimes a little get even does the job. I play call of duty when I’m in that mode.

  • My kids just got a trampoline. They’re young, and it’s pretty small, so, unfortunately, I can’t get on it with them. But my wife and I are having fun watching them have fun.

    We also took a trip to one of our favorite restaurants as a family.

    I did do some writing also, but definitely not as much as usual.

  • I find it so hard to take a break, but when I do, it does help tremendously. You are so right, the best thing to help you when you’re stuck is to just let go. Love the ‘infamous moments of brilliance in the shower”. The best ideas always happen there!
    Reagan
    “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the LORD, and not unto men”
    -Colossians 3:23

  • ksqasey

    I stumbled upon a random street market in Mid-town (NYC) while on a quest for an ink cartridge. I wandered through the rows of vendors and then took a stroll through Central Park. There was a violinist by the statue of Shakespeare playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, so I sat on a bench and soaked in the peaceful day and atmosphere.

  • Carol Allen

    I find a break essential especially when I am feeling stuck or like what I’ve written is crap. I know I need to fix it – usually means cut it – but I can’t figure out how. I haven’t written for a week. Today I wrote two pieces different from what I have been writing and I feel ready to start back on the stuff I have been stuck with.

  • You’re so right, Emily. Although we must stay focused, we also need to take breaks to keep the creative juices flowing. We have two teens, who actually still like us. We ate dinner with them and some of their friends four nights in a row and laughed ourselves silly!

  • LilianGardner

    I love this post, honestly!
    At times, I want to take a break and feel guilty by doing other something else, which I Know I can skip. So, being advised to take a break is fabulous. I’ve made an important decision; that of staying away from my PC each Sunday. On Monday I’m ready to carry on from where I left off. I confess, I’m not a steady writer, and I procrastinate, only with writing. I keep at all other jobs until they’re done.

    • Madani

      I am a great procrastinater too ( I am sure I am inventing the expression because I I am not a native English speaker). I procrastinate with everything except for writing which is a source of trouble with my household. When, by duty , I am forced to stop
      everything becomes fade in my eyes. I lose the mood of writing and I come back to my computor with great difficulty. This is how I feel these days. In the place where I live writers are not well seen, but money is. And, unfortunately money is not what I run after. How dare a man with money like me be a writer? Culture is hard to be got, more hard than money and who hasn’t it does his best to see the others like him. Sometimes these kind of people succeed to discourage us.

      • Madani

        correction: a man with no money.

      • LilianGardner

        Turn a deaf ear to those who dissuade you from writing. Don’t be discouraged. Have fun and write all you want when you have time.
        A year back I put aside what I was writing to cater to family, although they did not need my help. I knew it was only to distract me. Now I say, ‘I’ll be with you when I’ve finished this chapter’. After a struggle, they have finally accepted the fact that I enjoy sitting at my PC. Not one of them asks what I’m writing, or offers to read my ms, but it doesn’t matter
        I enjoy being a member of The Write Practice, where we get and give feedback.
        Have fun Madani.

  • Gary G Little

    I do solemnly swear, after posting to the contest tomorrow, I shall play HALO for the rest of the day. The daily prompt will be ignored, nothing will be done on any other WIP until Thursday afternoon. I do so solemnly swear.

    • LilianGardner

      Sound good, Gary. I’ll follow your example.

  • Michelle Chalkey

    My family hosted an engagement party for me and my fiance! It was great to see family and friends and to celebrate, but I brought my laptop on the trip home in case I had some free time to work. I opened it for about 5 minutes 🙂 It was a nice little break, but I’m more revved up to be writing this week.

  • Been getting myself in a pit of depression and guilt because I’m taking a break from writing for a few days. Then I read your soothing words, Emily. Now I won’t feel so bad about killing more mutants and hellbugs in ‘Defiance’ – until I have to face my impatient characters again.