Writer Life Lesson #10: Take a Break

Writing takes a toll on every aspect of our lives. Whether you call yourself a writer, or a poet, or a reporter, or anything to do with writing, you will start feeling the toll it takes on your body, physically, emotionally, psychologically. Sometimes we feel it more than others. When we do feel that increased toll, sometimes the only option is to take a break.

This week’s lesson is appropriately Take A Break

After Camp NaNoWriMo, which ended yesterday, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of writers are recovering after a month solid of writing time. Some writers attempted to sprint to the finish, writing several thousand words in the last hours of the challenge, while others finished days or weeks early. Either way, whether they crossed the finish line, or fell short, most of them are taking a break from writing today.

Trying to write several hours a day for a month straight is tiring. Writing, whether we realize it or not, is a full body hobby. Sure, it’s primarily the hands and the brain that do all the work, but we can’t forget about posture and eye strain, wrist cramps, legs falling asleep, and any other complications you may face. In short bursts, the pain and strain are minimal, but breaks are still needed.

Writing seems easy to everyone that isn’t a writer. All you do is put words on a page, right? Not even close. Writers are expected to write one thing after another, be full of ideas, and endless energy to write. All of which are pretty much the opposite.

There are good times to take a well deserved break

Take short breaks between chapters and section breaks
Get a drink and a snack and stretch, move blood into your muscles that have been sitting for a while, but make sure that you remember where you were heading with your plot and action. I tend to leave myself notes at the beginning of chapters and section breaks, just to remind myself. It helps to get back into the writing mojo later. What also helps is writing a sentence or two of the next section before a break.

Take longer breaks between finished works and pieces
I tend to struggle a little with this one. After I finish a piece, whether short story or entire novel, I get that jittery excitement, the urge to start something right away, or sometimes the urge to start editing right away as soon as possible. These are both pretty bad urges, and can cause a rather quick burn out. I recommend working on something else that isn’t writing. I tend to knit, or doodle, preferring something solid with my hands, but other writers play solitaire or online games. Whatever works for you.

So, Take a break for 5 minutes after you read this. You deserve it!


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