To be honest, ‘write every day’ is excellent advice. It helps new writers start the habit and it helps practiced writers train for new ideas.
But sometimes that advice can go too far.
I just started a full-time writing career… about a month ago. It’s absolutely the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done for myself (besides start practicing minimalism). The problem is that I have a hard time balancing work and breaks and writing on different platforms.
By day three, I had written about 10K words and edited approximately 40K. At the time, I didn’t think much of it because I was working to reach ‘The End’ on my manuscript (I did, and then spent three hours formatting it to fit on Kindle and print). By day four, I didn’t want to look at a computer screen.
Of course, my guilt came strutting in, beating me over the head telling me that I was failing and abusing my power of staying home to write. I’m a full-time writer… shouldn’t I be writing full time?
But that’s the thing. You’re allowed to take a day off. One day isn’t going to kill you. Of course, you don’t want that to become two, three, or more days off, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
In fact, sitting down to this document now is significantly easier than it was trying to force something yesterday. My writing is actually much better today.
Instead of feeling guilty about taking a day off, focus on the things that can help you best.
I had a huge pile of material that I have been reading in small chunks. Thanks to a day off, I read three books. And since they were all related to craft, indie publishing, and writing ideas, I actually learned. I even started reading a fiction book which I can technically label as research since it’s my genre.
Dig into that book you’ve been putting off. Escape into another world for a bit. Turn off the current world for a few hours and just enjoy.
What does a relaxing day look like to you? Sit back on the couch and take a nap, go to a shop, watch a movie, meditate, take a bath, take a walk in a park, go pet the animals at a shelter… Think about anything but writing if that’s what helps.
Cut out the social media. Turn off the screens. Step away from the TV.
Right now we are in a critical and life changing movement and it can be hard to step away from information and awareness. However, you do have to think about your health. If something (or someone) is really weighing on your stress level or you are struggling with your mental health, please take a step back.
You can’t serve others if you have nothing left to give them.
I have the nasty habit of using a day off to tackle errands and run around like a crazy person trying to get stuff done. Even on a day off I’m trying to be productive!
My biggest game changer has been slowing down and moving more deliberately. Instead of rushing off to the next errand, I take my time. I let others rush past me with their carts, I smile and walk through the aisles, I crank up the music in between destinations, and I focus on the moment.
You can call this mindfulness if you want, but basically go with the flow.
Treat yo’ self
Some of the best Parks and Rec episodes involved Donna and Tom running around and giving themselves permission to let loose. No, you don’t have to go crazy and buy yourself all the things, but think about what treat you’d really enjoy.
That can be ice cream, a walk, a massage, or even a new notebook or journal. Do something that would make you feel good.
I’m glad to be back at my desk. A day off made me even more excited to get back to the keyboard. Writing is my passion and a day off isn’t going to upend all of my work.
A day off was the best thing for it.
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