Why You Should Take a Day Off from Writing

It takes 21-28 days to create a new habit—though some research has found it takes as many as 66 days. It takes 10,000 hours to become a “master” at something complex—hence the reason we have a resource like The Write Practice.

But when starting an exercise program, they say it’s important to schedule “rest days” so your body has time to rebuild and grow stronger. Skipping those rest days only leads to injury and burn-out.

So what does that mean for writing?

How to Generate Ideas in Your Sleep

The best part about Daylight Saving Time in the fall is that extra hour we receive. Twenty-five hours in one day. A dream come true, right?

And while you may not realize it, that extra hour offers a prime time to tap into your imagination—without any effort on your part. That’s right—it’s possible to generate ideas in your sleep.

Whether they’re realistic or completely fantastical, dreams are a wonderful source for unique story ideas. You simply have to realize their creative potential. Here are a few ways to mine your dreams for your next big idea:

6 Ways to Shake Up Your Storytelling Style

Stories teach us, inspire us, and allow us to experience worlds we would not otherwise know. We learn about each other through sharing stories. We watch stories unfold on TV and in movies, read stories in books and magazines, and tell each other stories about our days, our childhoods, our travels.

Two weeks ago, I attended a panel presentation called “Storytellers: The Power of Perspective” during Chicago Ideas Week. While listening to the speakers, I was inspired by their different perspectives on storytelling—where they find inspiration, how they communicate stories, why they think stories are important and need to be told.

If you want to explore a new style of storytelling, here are six creative approaches to try:

How to Use Music as Writing Inspiration

At a wedding reception recently, the DJ played a song that was straight from my high school days. My friends and I danced along and laughed at the lyrics, but the music brought me back in time to all those high school dances.

The guys would come up with elaborate ways to ask their dates to the dance. The girls would shop for the perfect dress. We’d make plans to get together for a group dinner beforehand. And finally, we’d dance all night long (well, until 11 pm), letting loose with that freedom only 16-year-olds can experience.

So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, during a movie, or on my iPod and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.

Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. Here’s how to channel that power into inspiration for your writing:

Don’t Leave Your Characters in Limbo

A few years ago, when Sex and the City: The Movie came out, many reviews referenced New York City as the “fifth character”—an element of the storyline that was just as important as Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.

When writing stories—especially character-driven ones—we focus on the protagonist, the main characters and secondary characters, their backgrounds and motivations. We focus on conflict, what the characters want and what stands in the way.

But sometimes that means we forget to write about the setting, a crucial part of creating a strong story.