Taking a break is a writing technique that is often overlooked and not even considered a writing technique at all (probably because it doesn’t involve any writing). How exactly can taking a break from writing help your writing?
Luckily, you don’t have to wait for her to wake up to get an answer. After all, she’s just a picture.
Back in February of this year, an unexpected life situation forced to move into my sister’s basement temporarily. During that month, I took a break from a lot of things. One of those things I paused was writing. For that entire month, I didn’t write anything. I swapped manuscripts with my lovely beta reader, and we critiqued each other’s work. But when I got my critique back I sat it aside and didn’t immediately address its concerns.
At the end of that month I moved back home and began writing again. Suddenly, I felt refreshed, reinvigorated. More surprisingly, instead of feeling rusty and needing to gain back any momentum, my writing came across stronger than ever. I was able to approach my newly critiqued manuscript with a clear head and now have a better novel to show for it. Such a long hiatus may not work for every writer though. This is natural for me.
My writing tends to follow a cycle. First I go through periods of writing binges where I write every single day. I become this non-stop prose spewing beast banging on the keys for hours a day, seven days a week.
Then, after those long writing binges, I go through another phase where I don’t write anything at all for long stretches of time. It can last for weeks, but I’m never bothered by this lull because it’s always been like a recharge for my proverbial batteries. The cycle just begins again.
We writers tend to live in our heads and its necessary for us to step outside and enjoy the sunshine more than every once in a while. Shaking up your routine can sometimes, inadvertently, lead to you generating some of your best material. How many times has inspiration struck you while taking a shower? Sometimes you do your best writing when you’re not even writing.
So go and take that break for a few minutes and allow your subconscious to work out your story problems. To prevent burnout, go on hiatus for a day, or a week, or a month. Do something else. Shut the computer down. Have some chocolate. Spend time with your family. Enjoy life outside of your head. You deserve it. And your story needs it.
Do you take breaks from writing? What affect does it have on your writing?