Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So, Writer, You Think You Don't Need a Vacation?

Yes you do.

I think it's pretty obvious, really, and if that was all there was, this would be my shortest blog post.  But I feel the need to elaborate in order to encourage fierce, nose-to-the-grindstone type writers who figure they have to write every single day with a minimum word count under their belts to dial it back a bit and take a break.

See, I'm writing with cliches and I know it.  I must be rested because I actually know I'm doing it and I don't give a damn.  I'm clear and focused and at the moment this is how I want to write.

Okay, I admit it, I ran away to Las Vegas for four glorious nights.  Saved up some bucks to go, sought out a great deal and had a blast seeing shows, eating great food, shopping and dabbling just a bit in the gambling world.  I took nothing electronic with me except my cell phone which I had turned off except to check twice a day for emergency messages from our housesitter (of which, bless her, there were none).  Ah, it was a lovely time.

And, when I began work on Monday I was refreshed and ready to get down to it.  A great feeling.  Energized, awake and aware.  Ideas for the novel I'm working on abound.

So why am I telling you all this?  Because everyone needs a break some time.  It doesn't matter if you have the money to run away or not, writers need time away from the words they crank out and the electronics wrapped around daily lives.

If you can go somewhere special and blow out the stops, do it - and don't take  your laptop along!  If that's not in your budget declare yourself a holiday and for a set time, don't go on the web, don't text or talk on your phone all day, dont' work.  Just kick back and do something you enjoy.  Go to a cheap movie, take some long walks, read for enjoyment, put a comfy chair in the sunshine and bask, visit a coffee shop with friends, cook your own favoite meal at leisure, take a long, hot bath, do some gardening, be creative; whatever it takes to recharge your batteries.

Don't cheat.  Don't take a quick look at your accumulating emails or texts or tweets.  You'll deal with all that later, when the time you've set for your break ends whether you've taken a writer's break of 2 days or 10.

The dividends that'll make this even better than just the rest you'll get?  You'll be amazed at how much sharper you feel, how much better your brain clicks.  New ideas will pop.  Novel writing, copywriting, non-fiction writing projects you were working on before your break will make more sense, new ideas will freshen them and ultimately you're just gonna work better, faster, and with more clarity.

Sometimes we writers forget that we, like everyone else, need to take a break.  Because freelancers and fiction authors don't get paid when they don't work they can forget the need to just shut down for a while.  Yes, lost income is tough to replace, but that doesn't mean it isn't necessary.  Breaks boost productivity and greatly lessens the chance of burn-out.

This reality is especially obvious after an illness or some other stressful situation.  While in the midst of whatever crisis we face we tend to forget ourselves and just keep hammering at the writing, working, writing, creating because we need to.  But there comes a time when even a best selling author takes a break.  And though the best selling author has more resources than the average writer, the fact remains the same.  A break is necessary and not taking one can be detrimental to your writing.

Why do we freelance writers need vacations?  So we can write even better when we get back to it.

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