Saturday, October 1, 2011

Permission to Take a Break...?

All the advice books I've read talk about keeping to a writing schedule. Everyone knows the secret to writing is no big secret, ass in seat banging away at the key board. But when is it okay to take a break? And when does that break become a problem? This topic rolled around my critique group and grabbed my attention.

I just went on vacation for two weeks and took all this stuff to write and critique. My husband even made sure I had a place to plug in and work. I had grand plans of how much I was going to get done while I was away form my day job. But I didn't. I didn't write one word or critique one sentence. I read a really long book that had nothing to do with the craft of writing. And I played with my family. I felt so guilty… but it was fabulous.

So give yourself permission to take a break and enjoy what you are doing. Fill up the fuel tanks, however you do that, and come back refreshed. I have noticed that the urge to write ebbs and flows. Sometimes I am hot and want to write... and create... and learn... and dance under the moon. Okay, TMI. LOL.

But there are also times when getting just one sentence down on the computer screen is so hard earned, it feels like Mount Everest and I jump up and down at the accomplishment. It's hard to accept but sometimes one great sentence has to be enough. I think the trick is to allow yourself to take those breaks in-between times. Do what brings you joy, and then bring that joy back to the computer with you when you are ready to hit it again.

So we all know that if you don't fill the tank, you run on empty, but when is the break too long? One of my fellow critters expressed her concerns because she'd lost her drive all together, and didn’t feel the pull to write at all. I have to say there are going be times in our lives like that. Do we sit and make ourselves miserable because life pulls us away from our passion? I think the reality is we wear so many hats that they start to slip, and every once in a while our favorite hat (the writing one) is gonna end up on the floor.
Like many of us, I'm a mom and wife. I hold down a full time job that during tax season, I go to when it is dark outside and leave after the sun goes down. I am the CEO of my family and even though my family helps with the chores, I go back and do it behind them because that’s how I roll (teenagers often think things are clean that are not even close). So, with all that going on, time to write comes after the kids, after my marriage, after work (unfortunately) and once in a while I run out of day light. I can remember when my kids were younger and we had reading time and fieldtrips added in the mix and I did not write. I day dreamed about it. I jotted notes in note pads about it. But I did not pursue it because I just didn't have it in me. But the tide turned and now I find the time.

I believe, if you love it, you will come back to it. SO give yourself some slack. Because if YOU aren't on your own team cheering for what you've got going on right in front of you (mostly because you are busy kicking yourself in the butt for what you've left behind) who else will cheer?

Quote of the day:

"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


Sheri Fredricks said...

First of all, the pic of the baby relaxing is SO DARN CUTE!! And next, I've gone thru something like a slump where I get the "I don't wannas" and can't get the momentum to write. Which worries me for the day when I have deadlines to meet. What if one of those "don't wanna" gremlins latches on again? Like you, after reading a good book and just taking a break from it, I'll get back into the groove. It's in my blood afterall and I can't stay away too long.

Nice post. Great pics.

Brenda said...

Great topic--and much needed. I've gone through the I-don't-wanna-write moods--and they can last a long time. I get scared that my love of writing won't come back, but so far it always has.
I think what we all have to remember is writing isn't easy--at least for me it isn't. It takes a lot out of me. When I'm deep in writing a story, I almost lose who I am. And the emotional toll it takes on me is huge and exhausting.
Remember, it's okay and needed to take a break. But when the break goes on for too long, then you need to take action.