Binge reading and rest are good for the writing soul.
I wrote that as the title of a blog post about two and a half months ago, but I felt so excited about the story I was working on that I never got around to actually writing this blog post. In fact, two days after I dreamed up the idea for this post, I had my largest ever writing session–2.3k in one sitting. I’ve had days were I’ve written more words, but never another single session where I was that focused, although today, after writing and editing several blog posts I’ve been putting off, I might top it. What’s the secret, you ask?
It’s simple, really. All you need is rest.
At least, that’s all I seem to need.
Two and a half months ago, when I had this epiphany and some amazing writing sessions thereafter, I had a most excellent day. I did nothing. No, that’s not true–I rapidly consumed three books, one right after the other, watched some fluffy TV shows, and, most importantly, turned my brain off. I didn’t do any critical thinking, only let myself relax and enjoy the break. It was exactly what I needed.
You see, before that day I’d been struggling with my writing. I used a spreadsheet to capture how much time and many words I spend per writing session, and I’d been avoiding it for two weeks, around the time I was suffering some severe burn out from pushing myself too hard. I finished the first draft of my first ever manuscript after a really hard push and just… stopped writing. No, that’s not completely true. When I went back and estimated my writing (thanks google docs) I’d written about 2.5k words in those two-ish weeks; half of those words were blog posts.
I took a day completely off, not worrying about writing anything at all, because I’d found some extremely entertaining books. When I finished reading the third one I found myself actually excited to write again! It was like I needed to give myself permission to switch off, enjoy myself, and recharge my creative juices.
It was completely unexpected.
It happened again, unintentionally. I attended a happy hour one Friday night with some coworkers and apparently we all really needed to cut loose. When I woke up on Saturday I felt miserable, so I decided I wasn’t going to write, as I’d planned. Instead I planted myself on the couch (which really took me back to my college days) and binge watched an entire season of some silly TV show, then read a bunch of fun nonsense. And I felt so good afterwards!
My writing has been great lately, and I wasn’t thrilled with taking that break, but when I did a light bulb went off! I hadn’t realized that I needed it a true non-writing day, a day where I gave myself permission to not write and not feel bad about it. Now I’m productive and excited again, almost buzzing with creative energy. I can’t wait to get to work on my next story! The world is sunshine and rainbows all around!
Totally disgusting, right? All those exclamation points, all that happiness. And yet, that’s how I feel.
My point is, sometimes you need a break. You should never feel bad for taking a day or two off. If you need more time then take more time. Don’t stress about it, just accept it. We’re not super humans, as much as we hate to admit it. Everyone deserves some time off. Take your break, recharge, then get back to writing!
Your brain will thank you, I promise.