It’s Okay To Take A Break

One thing that’s hammered into writers, over and over, is ‘write every day.’ The idea being that the only way you’re going to get better is to produce words every day, whether it’s 100, 500, 1000 or more. We’re told, as writers, that it doesn’t matter what you write, even if it’s completely rubbish, because you can always go back and edit. This is true – first drafts are rarely going to be shining gems. But in regards to writing every day, it’s one piece of advice that can be thrown out the window.

If it does work for you, great! Keep doing it. Honestly, I prefer write when you can, when you want to. Whether that’s one day a week, or every day for a few weeks with breaks in-between. To be honest, convincing myself I had to write every day has caused me more guilt than anything else. The days when I don’t write, I used to question myself on whether it meant my writing wasn’t as good, or I wasn’t as much a writer as other people, etc. I used to beat myself up over it.

Truth is, sometimes when I get home, I can barely focus. Words on screens start to swim after a day of, well, looking at words on screens. And I know, if I were to write then, it just wouldn’t be good. I wouldn’t enjoy it, I’d struggle, and get annoyed. And honestly, what’s the point of writing if you’re not enjoying it? Normally, I do. Enjoy it, I mean. But I can’t just sit and write when I don’t feel like it.

Every so often, I come home from work, and just play video games. This might be for a day or two, or a whole week. Usually only a week if I know I’ll have plenty of writing time coming up. And on the weekends, I’m with my boyfriend; we don’t live together, so it’s the only time we get to spend decent amounts of time together. We play games, we watch things – I don’t write. And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s okay to take a break now and then. To be a writer – even a good one – you don’t have to write every day, when you least feel like it. It took me a while to realise that and to stop beating myself up for not slaving over the keyboard for another few hours in the evenings, or to not feel guilty for enjoying time with my boyfriend rather than locking down into what is, essentially, a solitary activity. Besides that, as writers we still need things outside of writing; it can’t become our whole lives, otherwise, what would we write about?

So, if you take occasional days off from writing, for whatever reason, just know it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world, and those characters will still be waiting for you when you come back. A little break never harmed anyone. You don’t have to write every day; just write whenever you feel best to do so.

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Why I Write

First things first; I know, I know, it’s been….actually, over a year since I posted. I’m terrible, awful, should have updated more…I’m just not hugely good at keeping up with things. But I promise, I will endeavour to write more on this blog, not least because now I have something to actually update people with! More on that a little later.

Recently, I’ve had a little crisis of confidence when it comes to my writing. This happens from time to time, when I begin to wonder if this is something I actually am good at, or if I’m just wasting my time bashing words onto a keyboard that no one but me will ever read.

I write for the love of it. Because it is one of those things I think (sometimes) I am pretty good at. I’ve always had good feedback on my work, whether it was on FictionPress, in seminars at University, or on Scrib. Well, less on Scribophile but for the most part, the critiques are still encouraging – just more geared towards improvement than anything else. And without it, I really don’t think my stories would have improved as much as they have in the last year or so I’ve been on there.

I’m not looking for fame and glory, though I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be a nice bonus. Eventually, it would be amazing just to have an audience, even if it was just one person, and to know I’d made someone smile through my writing – whether a short story or novel – or wrote something they thought of days later, in the same way some stories cross my own mind.

Isn’t that what all writers want?

Even without that though, there are other reasons I persist.

Truth be told, before the last year or so, things haven’t exactly been easy. There have been ups and downs, and through the downs, through some of the worst moments of my life, writing has been a persistent and constant companion. I have used it to work through my own thoughts, or to draw myself into a completely different world where the things I’ve been dealing with don’t exist. I’ve also used my own experiences to give my characters, hopefully, depth; in some, they have some of the less well-known symptoms of depression, or find themselves at some sort of crossroads, where they take the path I, personally, didn’t.

I’ve always used writing in this way, pouring my thoughts onto paper in the guise of fiction. And it helps. Whether or not what I’m writing relates to what I’m experiencing at the time, focusing on the words stops me focusing on whatever is bothering me. And if I go too long without working on anything, I start to feel drained, my fingers itching to get something written, no matter what it is.

Things have been a lot better more recently. For a variety of different reasons. But still, I write. I write because I can’t not write. I write because when I don’t, ideas and characters crowd my head begging to be let out. I write because, well, I’m a writer. I kind of have to.