Taking a break

I‘m sitting in my living room watching an episode of the Justice League. I was recently excited because I found Star Wars: Knights of the Old Repulic on Steam, and I’ve been playing that. I haven’t written anything in two days. You know what? That’s ok.

A common piece of advice “Write every day.” That’s good advice, for some people. For others, it’s the worse possible advice, and following it will lead the writer to hate writing. Here’s the thing. You have to find the schedule that works for you. Brandon Sanderson writes for six or seven hours every day, generally from about 9 PM to 3 AM. Kevin J Anderson does his writing while hiking and dictates his novels. Eric Flint writes in spurts, almost constantly for weeks at a time. Then, he spends just as much time not writing. I’m not quite that extreme. When I’m on a project, I’ll spend somewhere between three and five hours writing anywhere from four to six days a week. Basically, I maintain a quasi normal work schedule. Between projects, however, I might spend as much as a week not writing. That doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. I’m just not doing anything quantifiable. I’m thinking up new ideas. I’m developing old ones and figuring out the solution to problems in stories I’ve placed on the back burner. I was at Phoenix ComicCon recently. I did do a little writing there, but mostly, I just enjoyed myself. I also came up with three new novel ideas, and when I got back home, I started outlining. For those few days, though I didn’t do much work at all. Writing uses a certain part of your brain, and after a certain amount of work, that part gets tired and needs to rest. If you don’t, you can burn out.

Don’t misunderstand me. You shouldn’t use this as an excuse. There are parts of writing that are unpleasant. I hate doing my second drafts with a passion as hot as a thousand suns, but I still do it. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to treat writing like a job. Sometimes, you need a break from your job, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Here’s the most important lesson to take from this. Don’t feel guilty about not writing. Rest when you need to. Then, get back to work

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