Even when you’re “in the zone” and the words are flowing, writing is still hard work. And if you’re pushing yourself to meet deadlines or to check off writing milestones, you may be adding more stress to your writing process. Taking a break might seem lazy or self-indulgent: Writers are supposed to suffer, right? Wrong! The experts at Writer’s Relief know that putting down that pen or stepping away from the keyboard can actually improve your writing. Here’s how to take a purposeful break from your writing—and why you should.
Why You Should Take A Break From Writing
Support your mental health
Writing is a workout for the brain. And just as with any other strenuous activity, it’s important to rest so you don’t become burned out and exhausted. Taking breaks allows your brain and body to reset and recharge, and even a short pause can help your brain stay sharp and tuned in. When you put your writing aside, you also give your subconscious an opportunity to come up with other ideas or answers to tricky plot points or character developments that might have you stumped.
Prevent writer’s block
Instead of trying to write your way through writer’s block, walk away. When you take a timeout during the writing process, it allows you to think of new ideas without the pressure of having to meet a certain word count or deadline. Taking some time off from writing also allows you to try new things outside of your comfort zone, which stimulates brain activity and is one of the best ways to prevent writer’s block.
Improve your writing
When you’ve finished the first draft of your writing project, don’t move immediately into the editing or proofreading phase. Time away from your work will allow it to seep out of your memory, which will make it easier to review your writing carefully and critically with fresh eyes. Don’t rush! Powerful and effective writing takes time. J.D. Salinger took 10 years to write The Catcher in the Rye, and it took J.R.R. Tolkien 17 to write The Lord of the Rings. Taking breaks can lead to your best writing.
How To Take A Purposeful Break From Writing
Read, read, read!
Novelist Annie Proulx said, “Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” While you’re taking a break from writing, check out new releases in the genre you write in, as well as in other genres—these can all be great sources of writing inspiration. You might also crack open a literary journal to see what’s trending with editors. By reading the works of other writers, you’ll learn about different writing styles, topics, and ideas for your own writing.
Need a book recommendation to help you get started? Here’s what we’re reading at Writer’s Relief!
Listen to podcasts
There are countless podcasts about writing that can teach you about the writing process, provide inspiration, and offer engaging anecdotes to keep things interesting. Whether you want to fine-tune your writing style, delve into other genres, or just get a quick grammar lesson, there’s a podcast that can help you become a better, more productive writer.
Keep a journal
You may be taking a break from writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive and jot down notes in a journal for future use. As you go about your day-to-day activities, write down anything interesting you notice (and make full use of your five senses!). Being more observant is one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s toolbox. When you settle back into your writing chair, you’ll be surprised at how many great ideas you’ll have for your current project—or a new one!
Try new experiences
As literary legend Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” Try a new hobby, learn a new skill, or visit a new place. You can also simply find a new way to do an everyday task, like driving to the grocery store using a different route. The more experiences you have, the more varied and intriguing elements you can add to your novel, memoir, short story, or poem.
When you take a break from your writing, you come back to your work with a fresh perspective. Time away from your work will also help you remember that writing is something you like to do—not a drudgery or obligation.
You’ll also want to take a break from your writing so you can turn your attention to making submissions! The research experts and submission strategists at Writer’s Relief are ready to do all the time-consuming tasks that will get your writing into the right hands and boost your odds of getting published. Learn more about our services, and submit your work to our Review Board today!
Question: How do you take a break from writing?