Earlier this year, I took an unplanned but as it turned out necessary break from writing. I was in a productive routine, but then, an earth-shattering loss had me feeling that writing was pointless. My beloved writing group encouraged me to stay connected to the work. Thankfully, I listened and kept a journal nearby. Long, depressive passages eventually gave way to new ideas and character breakthroughs.
During that break, I decided that instead of feeling guilty about missing a self-assigned deadline, I would focus on the writer (me) instead of the writing. I read one to two books a week and started annotating passages. I listened to interviews with writers and craft podcasts. My mind was whirling with so much advice and inspiration that I was basically propelled back into the work. I wanted to write; I was ready.
I’ve come to realize that purposeful breaks from our writing don’t need to be a bad thing. A break can be a productive period that adds up differently than a daily word count. Instead of feeling guilty during a break, I ask myself, “What am I capable of doing today?” not “What do I think I should be doing?” I noticed that the kinder I was to myself, the easier it was to stay connected to my writing.
If you’re itching for time away and feel the resistance creeping in, make it a choice. Staying connected to the page will make it easier to get back in the chair.