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Why it’s Okay to Take a Break from Writing

Maybe it’s one day, or maybe it’s one day that became one year. However long you’ve gone without writing (or plan to go without writing) you are guaranteed to feel intense guilt. Although we all want to crank out 10,000 words a day (and, shockingly, actually writing is crucial to doing that), here are some reasons why it’s okay to take a break. (As long as ‘break’ doesn’t become ‘quit’.)

1. Life is not going to wait patiently for you in its notebook or computer like your writing will.

This might seem obvious, but there are some things that are more important than working on your novel. Although getting your word count goal might seem like the only thing that matters, there isn’t always time to do that and everything else you want to do. While there are sacrifices that should be made to create writing time, like not partying every night (unless you consider writing a party of its own, then party on), there are some things that should not be sacrificed.

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2. It’s going to happen and feeling guilty won’t help.

Missing a day writing is like when you sit down to eat a scoop of ice cream but end up eating the entire container. Feeling guilty isn’t going to undo your  slip in self control with ice cream, nor will it make more words appear from the days you didn’t write.

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3. It makes editing easier and can give you new ideas.

There’s a reason one of the top editing tips is to step away from your writing and then come back to it. In the moment, we tend to get emotionally attached to our work and tend to miss things readers wouldn’t. So take a break, set it aside, and get some distance. Then, of course, come back with a vengeance and edit away.

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4. Some days/weeks/months are just busier than others.

While it’s a nice idea to get a certain number of word written each day, every day, it’s not always feasible. You can plan for this a little bit by not making your word count as high on busier days, but sometimes the days sneak up on you, taking your writing time hostage. If you can, steal it back. If you can’t, breathe, know it happens to everyone, and move on.

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5. Sometimes you just need to take a break.

There’s a reason why people advocate for the Pomodoro method where you work for 25 minutes and take 5 minutes off. (Or, as I end up doing it, 25 minutes writing, 5 minutes off, 50 minutes watching random, mildly-entertaining youtube videos). We need some time to refocus and get our enthusiasm back. This is not only true for day-to-day activities, but for long periods of time as well. While sometimes you should just write through the lack of enthusiasm, sometimes you should take a break and get inspired again. (Speaking of which, are you looking for inspiration? Check out my blog post here.)

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Do you know of other reasons to take a writing break? Comment below.

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