Saturday, September 15, 2007

Give Yourself a Break

I finally figured it out. After finishing a writing project, I don’t want to write for a week or two, or more. I just don’t feel like it. But I feel a bit guilty. After all, if I’m serious about my writing I should write every day, or at least every other day, right?

I can look back and see the pattern. After something big is completed, writing project, a race, a class, I like to have a little break. I’ve trained (and I use the term loosely) for the run for months and my next run might be slow and short. I’ve studied during the class for months and when it’s over I might not look at anything related to the material for a weeks.

I used to feel bad about it, like I should always be keeping up the pace. Now I realize that I need the break. It helps things clear, or helps me rest or allow things to gel. With a writing project, I have to clear the decks and let my thoughts move on to something new. It takes me a little time to do that. With a race, I’m just plum tired of the push and I want my body to rest a bit and help me decide if I’m going to tackle another. With a class, I find when I leave the material and ideas for a while and then go back to file things away, I can see more clearly what’s really useful now and what I might need later.

Even when you love what you do, there’s pressure if you’re working hard. That’s why we take vacations. It allows us time to have a break and do something different. It’s similar to a suggestion which I’ve found really useful in my writing. Put it away for a day or two, or more, if possible. When you come back to the manuscript, you can see it more clearly from a different perspective. It often allows you to add some depth and clarity.

When you plan a break, like a reward, it feels good. It’s not like the guilty pleasure of sneaking time away which is bittersweet. Just give yourself a break. You worked hard and deserve it.

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