Why You Need a Writer’s Break
Dealing with writer’s block or lack of motivation? You might need a break.
I have a love-hate relationship with writing.
Yes, I know. I sound like the typical 21st-century artist. Woe is me and my relationship with my gift.
Some days, I love writing. It brings me great comfort, allows me to articulate my thoughts, gives me the creative outlet I need from the humdrum of everyday life. And yet, there are some days I come to despair when I must sit down and write. Those are the days when my mind is blank, my hands are cramping, and my brain all but tries to shut down.
The conventional advice writers often receive is to push through. I’m sure you can relate to pouring across the thousands of articles encouraging you to keep going and find some way to pour your soul onto the page, even when your eyes are barely half-open. For every thousand articles interesting you to push through, there are another thousand motivating you to start yet another 30-day writing challenge.
I was there. I thought that, in order to be a skilled writer, I simply have to keep chugging along. In some respects, this is true. But pretty soon, my train started burning and before I knew it, crashing. I came to a point where I hated writing. I despised having to lift my fingers up to type, churning article after mediocre article for the sake of writer validation. Then, two months ago, something pretty amazing happened.
That’s right. I stopped writing, point blank. I was no longer waking up at the ungodly hour of 6 am to haul myself across the keyboard. I woke up and lived.
At first, I felt a kind of guilty. I had built up a following on my socials and on my newsletter. Would my readers be offended? Would they drift away from me? Would the frameworks I had built suddenly come tumbling down?
In fact, taking some time off writing regularly was one of the best things I could have done for my career. I know this is counterintuitive right now, especially with the reaffirmations and compulsions to start challenges for the New Year.
But if you haven’t already given yourself a break — here’s why you need to.
Breaks give you time to rest
It’s pretty obvious. Straightforward. Simple, if you will. Yet, it’s often the most simple of things that trip us up the most.
Taking a break gives you time to rest.
Last year was already incredibly tough for me. I had left my job to work freelance at the dawn of the pandemic and then found myself in another full-time gig as part of an accelerator program I am currently on. Add the attempt to scale multiple ventures and communities, with a dash of writing daily, and rest seemed impossible.
When I finally quit writing regularly in November last year, I straight-up felt unhinged. I had gotten so used to over-exerting myself that it felt strange to be…free. I could fill my time doing things I enjoy, like watching Netflix, baking, spending more time with people I actually love.
Use it to rediscover your passion
It’s super ironic. Putting the brakes on writing gave me enough space to remember why I liked it in the first place.
Sometimes, when you write under conditions of duress, the resentment against your own passion builds up inside of you. The moment you notice this trend put it on pause. If you don’t, the overall quality of your writing will be affected, alongside your capacity to complete a piece.
By taking some time away from the act, I could consciously pinpoint what it is about writing that always gets me going. I could have space to meditate on it, internalize it, and eventually embody it when it came back to writing. It’s important to conjure up those powerfully positive associations when writing.
Don’t forget to live life.
Most writers draw inspiration from their livelihoods when writing — so don’t forget to live!
Taking a break allowed me to do just that. Read books, talk to more people, be present in more of my experiences. Funnily enough, as I return to the swing of writing, I have more material than ever before to start writing. I have so much more to offer the world because of living in it. I encourage you to do the same. Take a conscious decision to really live in the fullness of your own life by taking a writing break. Go on holiday. Or maybe binge watch 3 series with ice cream.
Whatever is your truth is, live in it. Return when you are ready.
It’s only January and I am begging you to schedule your next break. Don’t wait until your love for your work shrivels up, dies, and becomes a chore like everything else. In the same way, you must actively prune and cultivate a relationship with another person, you must do the same with your relationship with writing.
Take a break and thank me when you fall in love with writing again…and again…and again.