by Elizabeth Conte
There it was . . . the “happy” flower I call it. The daffodil. An inspirational flower with a ruffled collar surrounding a “face” of joy. It was popping through the now dormant hydrangea bushes, the sunny yellow color stark against the hardened dirt and dried branches. The symbol of rebirth, renewal, and growth. Spring is here! It’s time to write again.
Winter and the holidays are a natural break from writing for me. Not because it’s cold, snowy, and conducive to hibernation. I live in California! But I need time to recoil, let the year behind be absorbed in my psyche, and allow lessons to be learned about life, myself, and my writing. The break does me good. But does that good translate into being a successful writer?
I used to feel guilty if I wasn’t writing. Writers get a lot of advice about keeping your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard. We are told, “Write every day, set a word count, and don’t get up until you reach it.” But the creative process is one of cycles. There is a time to push hard and there is time to step back. K.M. Weiland’s article, 5 Reasons You Should Stop Writing, reminds us, “Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is not write.” Giving your brain a break not only allows a writer to work through knots in their story, but it can breathe life back into the creative process.
Take a Break
Emily Wenstrom says in her article, 3 Reasons You Should Take A Break, “There’s just no getting around it—sometimes the very best thing for your brain is to stop working it so hard.” It helps to fend off burnout, give a new perspective, and refresh the mind. Whether it’s a winter holiday, summer vacation, or a random month, it’s important to allow time to break from writing.
It’s pretty common for writers to sacrifice health, relationships, and the basic enjoyment of life for their art. Writers stay up too late, hunched over their computers, pushing themselves to get out the very last thought before it gets lost. Many writers fit writing time in between jobs and family…times they should be sleeping, eating, or moving. Writing is about sacrifice. Maria Brophy points out, “That is the dilemma that every writer faces. You can’t do it all. Something has to give.” But what?
Most writers chose writing because it offers flexibility. Writers can decide when to write, what to write, where to write, and how much to write. But as Iain Broome states, “You will have to make writing your number one priority.” The decision of what to sacrifice and how much is ultimately the writer’s. The challenge is prioritizing writing in the context of life, not giving up life.
Any seasoned writer will tell you that writing needs a break. It can make us better storytellers, help us develop better characters, refresh our drive, and inspire our imagination. Don’t mistake time off as a sign of failure. Like the daffodil, a timeout produces a time of growth and rebirth and releases beauty into the world. Let your writing do the same.
When I am not writing books, tormented with poetry, or inspiring others with my blog at Writerdeeva.com, you can find some of my work published in Lost Coast Review and PennWriters, and I am a regular editor/contributor to Industry News for Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).