NB: I am currently on hiatus throughout May so will not be responding to comments until June.
Today’s guest poster is the lovely Yvonne Lozano who talks about the importance of taking breaks.
Let’s talk about taking breaks, why they are important, and when to take them
Having a writing schedule is personal. It is what you have found –or are working on finding– what works best for yourself.
For example, some writers are able to write every day for hours at a time. Others write for a few minutes every day on a little scratch pad they carry to and from work/school just whenever they are able to make the time. So no two schedules will be alike!
But whether you are the first writer, the second, and a writer that fits somewhere in between – you are not safe from a particular side effect that comes with being creative… burn out.
At some point, we’ve all experienced burn out (otherwise known as “writer’s block”) in some form or fashion.
I am sure it’s easy to see why the writer who is able to work every day needs to take breaks to avoid burn outs and less so for the person who can only write for a few minutes at a time- but yes, burn out can still happen to anyone, no writer is safe!
As much as I understand the desire to achieve all daily, weekly and monthly goals before taking a moment to mentally stretch your legs, unfortunately, that’s not how taking a break works.
If the point is to avoid burn outs then pushing yourself to meet a goal before you take a break is counterproductive.
Finding the right times to take a break may take trial and error but once you find what works best for you, you’ll see an uptick in your productivity over longer periods with fewer burn outs during those times.
For some, like those with less sporadically inclined writing schedules, taking a 30-minute break to browse the interwebs, or just minimize your document screen for some nice cat videos on YouTube after writing for a few hours can be a great refresher to get you through the rest of the day.
For others, breaks can sometimes be taking days off where they don’t allow themselves to work on their WIP except to jot down notes or read over other projects.
It doesn’t matter how you take your breaks, it’s just whatever works best for you, but your breaks should be taken regularly and whether or not you’ve achieved your goal for the day/week or month.
Chances are if you didn’t meet that goal—it was either unrealistic or, dare I say it, you needed a break!
Now let’s talk about taking vacations from your writing
No, these are not just breaks that last a day or two, these are actual mental vacations you must take from your work.
Unlike when you take a regular break to refresh during the day, this is when you’ve finally met a long term goal or milestone and now must take a step back from your work.
Typically, if you’ve finished your first draft this is the best time to take your first mental vacation. Why? Because you are too close to your work at this point and are more likely to miss any mistakes when checking over your WIP.
So taking a week-long (it can be less or longer if you so choose though I do not recommend more than a month off) is a great way to come back to your work with fresh eyes.
You’ll also enjoy reading your WIP more as well—which is good, you should definitely enjoy reading your own story!
Not sure when to take vacations? Here are some suggestions:
- Any time after a full story edit.
- Any time after a full read through.
- During the alpha/beta reading phase.
- When sent off to a Professional Edit (This will also save you money during the Professional Edit).
- When major milestones have been met (such as large word count goals. Ex: 50,000/80,000/100,000).
This is about what works best for you to help you avoid burn out as much as possible. Work, school, depression, anxiety, and so on can all get the best of us at any moment and time so it’s important to recognize when you need to take time off to get your bearings.
If you just need a vacation after several months of working on your WIP, just take a vacation! There is no shame in taking care of yourself.
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My name is Yvonne Lozano, I was raised by a single father in Lockhart TX, and I joined the U.S. Army at 19.
6 years later I was free and following my passion as a writer with my husband of 5 years supporting me 100%.
I now have a little boy who is also super supportive, though he may not be aware of it yet!
About my current WIP
After a tragic event, Emma Fields, finds herself inheriting her father’s ranch. Except she’s finding out 5 years too late that her aunt took off with her inheritance and left the ranch in ruins with debt collectors preparing to take away her family’s home.
A woman with intense eyes may have a solution to pay off the debt collectors and rebuild her home. A dangerous one, but a solution nonetheless. Is it worth it?
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