Sometimes, you just need a break.
I’m actually not even there right now. My writing is flowing, my Ideas are going off like tiny firecrackers in my brain. The words are being written, and regularly. Thank goodness! No block for me.
However, I have been there. Sometimes you are sick, or exhausted (mentally or physically). Sometimes you’re emotionally spent. Sometimes, you just need to step back from your work and recharge your batteries. Sometimes you need to stop for a day, a week, or even a month.
The world is not going to fall off its axis if you stop writing, or painting, or dancing, (so on and so forth) for a brief amount of time.
Do not feel guilty. A break is not the same as quitting. A break is brief, temporary. (Is anyone else yelling ‘We were on a BREAK!’ in their head right now???)
If you need to take a short hiatus, there are still things you can do to remain creative. Taking a break, we’ll just say from writing from here on out in the post, does not mean you have to stop thinking about writing as well as physically getting the words on paper.
You can still create, you can even have FUN! While taking care of you, and removing yourself a little from your writing, great things can still occur, and those great things can lead to amazing stories once you’re ready to get back to work.
If you just can’t write at this very moment, then why not try something else that will further your story, such as:
-Character sketches: I don’t mean literal sketches with a pencil or whatever, although that’s cool too, but making lists or brainstorming ideas about your characters. They don’t have to be related to the plot, or issues you’re having with the writing, or anything else. Simply asking yourself interesting questions about your characters can keep your brain busy and your creativity there with you. What’s your protagonist’s favorite dessert? Weird quirk? Hygiene habits? What about your antagonist? What are they afraid of? What’s their favorite song? Who do they love?
-Inspiration Board: Being a visual person, I love to SEE ideas all laid out, whether that’s on Pinterest or on a vision board, generally with a theme or connecting feeling. You can make boards with appealing images online, or you can go old school, grab a pair of scissors and some magazines, and start cutting. Find images that speak to you. They can relate to your writing, and you could make an entire board just on a potential novel or story. Or, you can simply make a board that speaks to you as a person, as a writer. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It only has to make you feel.
-Music: I love music. I make soundtracks for my stories, at least the long ones. I have a fabulism/fantasy soundtrack. Writing with music keeps my brain buzzing with ideas, or at least, that’s what I’ve told myself all these years. If you want to take a step back from writing (again, just temporarily), then you can still create—make a playlist for your stories! Or make a list of songs for your individual characters. Explore new musicians. Go to concerts. Dance. Sing. It is all good.
-Movies: Sometimes all you want to do is curl up on the couch in your LuLaRoe buttery-soft leggings and binge-watch your favorite movies and TV shows. Junk food optional. (But is it really?). Go for it. It might seem like it’s almost mindless to watch movies or television, as though you shut off your brain in order to suspend disbelief, and to escape reality, but even if you are, and even if you’ve seen said movies hundreds of times (like me with my favs) it is still stimulating to watch actors, dressed up, acting out fake realities. You can still cultivate new ideas this way. And you can do it while vegging in an ice-cream stupor.
-Exercise: Yeah. I’m not one of those people who love to work out. I generally dread it. Afterwards, though, I feel pretty damn good. When you crank up some music and start running, or walking, or settle into your favorite yoga pose a part of you shuts off, and you have to really focus on what you’re doing. It’s quiet. It’s calm, even if you have pop music blaring in the background. With that kind of clarity can come creative bursts. Just try walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes and see if your mind begins to wander. And, FYI, if you didn’t already know, mind-wandering is a really good thing.
-Nature: This ties in a little to the point above. Sometimes when you are on a break from writing, the best thing to do is reconnect with the outdoors. If you like to garden, get your hands in the dirt. If you like to hike, lace up your boots. I’m not an “active” outdoors person, in that I’d rather sit and sip a cold drink in a hammock in the warm breeze than dig up shrubs. To me, nature is relaxing, beautiful, calming. When I get outside, and really look around I usually always come up with some interesting thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts lead to stories.
-Reading: I think the best thing you can do when taking time away from your writing is to read. Simple.
Besides those things mentioned above, if you have a little time to fill up your regular writing hours, it never hurts to do things with loved ones, to work on your other hobbies, to make good food, to sleep. Fill up your extra hours any way you like. Just don’t forget to get back to the page. It probably already misses you.
Thanks for reading!