by S.E. Jones
Sometimes, you’ve just got to take a break. When you’re so sick of your words that you can’t look at them anymore, when you start to roll your eyes at every possible idea you have, when all of your characters seem to do not much more than walk in circles…
Well, take a break. Go on, it’s fine. What’s not fine is not starting again.
Some people find it really difficult to make themselves write. If this is you constantly, maybe try a different form or try a script–shake it up a little. If you’re still at that point but have a burning need to tell a story? Then you’re just going to have to push through the whole writing thing to tell that story.
This inability to make oneself write happens for other reasons too. Sometimes it’s just good old fashioned procrastination. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be much point. And sometimes, you’ve just written 2,000 words, and you’d like to have a break, thank-you-very-much.
The difficulty with all these is getting back to the story. Once you’ve given yourself permission to stop, then it becomes very hard to revoke that permission.
Something I’ve found useful is the idea of momentum. If you start, sometimes you’ll just get pulled forward again. If you don’t, well, maybe you’re done for the night. But starting is honestly sometimes the hardest thing.
So set a timer. Set it for five minutes. If you’re really struggling, schedule a five minute break. But make sure there’s another five minutes of writing time after that.
Cause five minutes isn’t long. Five minutes is nothing. Five minutes is “well, if I really hate it, it’s only five minutes” territory.
6 sets of five minutes is also a half hour. Five minutes is a start, and sometimes, once you’ve started, you’ll forget that you’re supposed to stop in five minutes. You’ll keep going.
It’s win-win really. Either you forget about the breaks, or even if you do take them, you’re still writing for half an hour.
Guest post contributed by S.E. Jones. S.E. is a writer and paramedic living in London. When not doing the above two things, she reads.
Good post. For me, aside from my procrastination, my biggest hurdle seems to be actually getting back into the story after a break. I find myself re-reading a whole whack of pages, which delays my ‘new’ writing even more! Then of course I start *editing* what i wrote before… I realize this isn’t time wasted, but still, I’m not going ahead, dammit. Any ideas? Is this common with others?
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Great tip to get back into my morning writing. I slowly allowed my “sleep in” to consume me.
Reblogged this on Kim's Musings.
A really fruitful advice. Thanks for the post.
This is so true … my problem is procrastination which I seem to have down to a fine art. I also tell myself that I need a full day of having nothing to do before I can sit down and write which is utterly ridiculous I know. I just get frustrated when my husband keeps finding things for me to do because he’s worried I shall be bored or something. I have never suffered boredom! I just need a hefty kick up the bottom. 😬. Katie
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Excellent advise! I remind myself of it everyday. It’s ok to take a break, just keep writing when when break is over. It goes along with one of my favorite misquotes I keep printed out to look at daily: I only write when inspiration hits me. I just make sure inspiration hits every day at 9:00 o’clock.
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Great advice! Thank you!
I agree: taking a break is a double-edged sword. Sometimes we need it and then look at what we have done with new eyes, but it can easily go the other way and we abandon writing for some time and find it increasingly hard to get back to it. I try not to leave too many days without writing. Like you said, you can write something else in the meantime and it can be short, but it’s important to write and then eventually try to come back to the writing you found difficult unless you think it won’t work at all.
Getting started is the hardest thing for me. I think the problem I have is I don’t have a particular goal or deadline. I’m writing as more of a hobby and am not really concerned about making money. However, I want to be published. I want to enter a contest and win. The incentive is there; the will is lacking because I’m afraid to fail.