Some writers say you should write every day. But that isn’t the case for every writer. Just because it works for some, doesn’t mean it will work for you. There may be very valid reasons for taking a break from your writing.
If you feel like you need or want a break, you should probably take one. You don’t have to expect yourself to write every day if that isn’t working for you. Your writing journey will look different than anyone else’s writing journey. So you have to do what is best for yourself, not what you think you are supposed to do in order to be a real writer.
So, should you take a break?
When Should You Take a Break from Your Writing?
When to Take a Short Break
Sometimes an activity that rejuvenates my mind is enough of a break to motivate myself to write. This could be self-care like painting my nails, going for a run, or taking a bath. Just a quick little activity that gets me away from my computer and helps me relax or recharge me can go a long way. I have a go-to list of 10 tricks I can use when I don’t want to write. Often, one of these will trigger my motivation, and I will be able to have a productive writing session after just a short break.
One of my favorites is exercise. I love to run, but even a walk around the block can clear my mind and give me inspiration and motivation to keep writing. By the time I get back home I’m often ready to write.
Another really helpful one is listening to a podcast or song. There are so many podcasts about writing and staying motivated. Listening to these podcasts often put me in the perfect mood for writing. Music can also be a powerful tool in setting the stage for productive writing.
Sometimes I need to do something that rejuvenates me after I finish writing for the day so that I will be prepared to write the next day. But it’s also okay to stop in the middle of a writing session, take a break doing something that motivates you and gives you a little energy boost, and then come back to your writing. There is no wrong way to write, so if taking a break in the middle of a session helps you to keep going it is totally worth it!
So if you feel like writing is taking a lot of energy or you are struggling to proceed with your writing, take a short break. Spend 10-15 minutes doing something that you love. Something that fills you with energy and motivation. Then continue your writing that day or prepare to come back to it tomorrow.
When these tricks fail (because sometimes they do) and a short break is not enough, you might need a more invasive approach to get your motivation back. You need a long break.
When to Take a Long Break
If a short break is not helping you, consider taking a longer one. If you are feeling burnt out or you’ve just finished an extensive project, you might benefit from a longer break. You should take a long break if you are worried that keeping up at your current rate will cause you to feel overworked and unable to keep writing.
Some writers advise staying put because they fear if you leave you won’t come back. And that is solid advice. There have certainly been times when I’ve told myself I’d take a break and that break turned into a 3 month period where I’d all but abandoned my novel. But I’m going to tell you it is okay to take a break.
Why? Because there is a difference between taking a break with the intention and plan to return to your writing and taking a break because you feel unmotivated and have no intention of returning to your project in the near future. That’s not really a break, it’s caving into discouragement and lack of motivation. When you are struggling to write, don’t let that push you into a break you aren’t prepared for. If you ever decide to take a break, make sure you have a plan.
As long as the break is intentional and you are committed to a time when you will return to your writing there are many instances when taking a break does more good than harm. Sometimes it means not working on your writing for a day or two. Other times it means taking a break for a week or so. When you feel unmotivated and you deny yourself a break, it may take you all day to write a few crappy sentences. And it doesn’t help you get out of the rut for any future writing sessions.
Taking a break and then coming back will enable you to write quicker and better, thus making up for the time “lost” in taking the break. Not being motivated often leads to spells of time where you just give up. It’s better to take a break with purpose than take a break because you feel like giving up.