Being Okay with Taking Time Off

GoneReading-at-the-Beach-Womens-T-shirtI’m sure I’ve written about this before, because God knows I’ve been struggling with it for a while, but I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t know how to not be writing. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but see, my brain is tired. I know this a few ways:

  1. I’ve been doing stupid stuff lately like forgetting my work badge at home and getting confused about what day it is (which can be problem at work when you’re supposed to send out an announcement on a certain day but not before, trust me)
  2. I’m so tired that I spend most of Saturday asleep (where did my energy go? I want it back!)
  3. My characters aren’t talking (there are about 20 books plots in there and all I hear is silence)
  4. I think my muse is in Tahiti (wish she would have taken me with her)
  5. I can’t settle on a new book topic (I have two historicals and three contemporaries that are strong contenders.)

As someone who is trying to launch a writing career, part of me feels like I can’t afford to waste any time. That’s why I haven’t stopped writing in the last three or four years. I’ve just gone from one book to the next – for six books (with a full-time job). Well, I think the end of that extended energy spurt is over.

On top of wanting to write another book, I’m also the kind of person who can’t ever stop learning. I’ve even created my own DIY MFA program. And I want to get started on that, but every time I think about it, my brain says “uh-uh.”

All of this boils down to the fact that I don’t have a choice but to take a break. It’s actually good timing in that I’ve got two books out in the publishing world trying to find agents/editors that are right for them. Plus, it’s getting to be summer, which means nice weather and pool time. So I’ve made a deal with myself: I’ll take a break until June 1. That’s only about three weeks, but it should be long enough for me to know if I need a longer rest or if I can get back into the writing game again.

And I will. Right now sometimes it feels like I don’t have another novel in me. But that’s just the burnout talking. We all know I have at least 20 in me. Watch out when I come back because they may all burst out one after the other!

Have you ever had to give yourself permission to slow down or stop doing something at least for a while? If so, let me know. Hearing your stories will help me feel less guilty!

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11 thoughts on “Being Okay with Taking Time Off

  1. A break is a good thing. And with your busy schedule, it sounds like you not only need one, but deserve one. Things can easily get cluttered when you put so much pressure on yourself. Creativity needs time to replenish. Relax and enjoy a little time off… you’ll be refreshed and raring to go. Have fun! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post. I’ve been there and I feel a little less alone about it. Between burnout and a few majorly bad things that happened in my life, I had to take a long break. The thing I found comforting was to remember how much I love writing, to appreciate the story ideas that were still bubbling away in my brain. These things were my assurance that I would be back to writing, and that made it easier to do what I needed to bring myself back to a mentally healthy place.

    Be kind to yourself. You’re not a machine, but you clearly love writing too. You’ll be back to it. Time spent on self-care isn’t wasted time. Also, even pros take time off between books. Everyone takes vacations from their jobs, even writers. It’s okay to do so, even when you’re trying to get that writing career off the ground.

    I hope June 1st will see you writing again. And if not then, whenever you’re ready. The words, stories and characters will be there.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Sorry to hear you’ve been in a similar place, but it sounds like it all worked out for you. You make a really good point about the pros taking time off between books. I hadn’t thought about that and it helps a lot. Thanks for being here.

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