Every job comes with some vacation time as part of the deal. Everyone recognizes the need to take a break, step away, and make time for activities outside our professional life. We can set our email with an “I’m out of the office” auto-response, we can turn our smartphones to airplane mode, or we can lounge on a beach chair with a cocktail, laptop safely stashed in a hotel room. But when we’re creating something, we’re often in the zone, so to speak, and we don’t want to shut it down. Or maybe our writing habit is such that we write a little bit every day at six in the morning, no exceptions.
We can probably all agree that taking a break for us creative types might look and feel a little different than taking a vacation from other jobs. It might help to consider what we need to do in order to feel refreshed and energized in our writing life. Maybe it is a few days away unplugged with no thought to deadlines, edits, or our work in progress. For me though, some parts of the writing process are themselves rejuvenating and nourishing, and the thought of stepping away completely is stressful.
Perhaps the right approach to taking a break is simply giving ourselves permission to recharge, whatever that looks like for us individually. Here are some things I think about when I know I’m running low on creative energy and need a break of some sort:
Taking a break doesn’t have to mean doing nothing.
Sometimes I’m exhausted from one particular project, and turning my attention to something fresh is just the change of pace I need to feel the creativity flow again. For example, if I’ve just finished a full-length novel, I might write a short story in a different genre. If I’m heavy into edits, I might play around with an outline for a new novel.
When I’m taking a vacation, it’s a pleasure to find writing time by the pool in the morning or out on the deck with a glass of wine in the afternoon. The change of scenery feeds my imagination. The long days, with only the sunshine and a story swirling in my head, feel luxurious. I want to write. It’s joyful under these conditions.
Find opportunities to refill the creative well.
Most of the time, when I’m attending a conference or Comic Con, I’m there on a panel or signing books. Even though I love these events, I’m expending energy both physically and creatively. On the other hand, when I’m an attendee at a writer’s conference, I’m soaking up the creativity and recharging my own batteries.
Reading, enjoying a good television series, watching a movie, or attending another author’s lecture all provide opportunities to take a break from our work and renew ourselves with someone else’s.
To me, taking a break really means finding a way to refresh, recharge, and rejuvenate. There’s no right way to do that, only the way that works for each of us.