Monday, May 9, 2016

"Pausing" Your Writing

Yes, it is possible. In a world that demands many writers to always be writing, the idea of taking a "pause" on your writing might seem strange or dangerous for your motivation or quality of work. Shut that voice in your brain up and take a break once and a while. Your mind and your writing will thank you in the long run.

We are living in the era of the "write everyday" mentality. If you didn't write something today, be it 100 words or 1000+, your day simply is not complete. A writer must always be writing. Always. How many of us achieve that goal all the time? Very few would say they do, and some of those people are definitely lying. So why should we continue to let this workhorse mentality control our motivations and writing life so much?

I don't know about all the other writers out there, but I stress about my writing schedule a lot. Throughout my week, I usually write 1,500 - 3,000 words each day, 4-6 days a week. And if I start missing more than a couple days in a week, I'll start to stress out about it. Why? The mentality of the constantly working writer. And so I decided to combat that feeling and that mentality. 

Late last month, I was hard at work on my current work in progress, and had hit a string of chapters that didn't come out the way I expected or wanted them. They were, and are, probably fine, but I only saw faults. Still, I kept on forcing the words out in bulk everyday. That didn't help, and so I tried out the exact opposite strategy. I took a pause on my writing, every aspect, and said I'll be back in two weeks tops. It's been nine days and I'm dying to get back to it, more motivated and excited to write than I have been in months.

My advice to the other writers out there: try this. It is the nature of the creative mind to be insecure or unsure about their continuation of work if they stop, but fight against this. Have some self-control, and you will have control over the work you produce. Sure, no one is truly forcing you to keep writing, but no one is forcing you to stop forever either. It takes discipline to take a break from a long, difficult process and then come back to it. But you ought to have discipline for something you're truly passionate about anyway.

Before I took my writing pause, I was burned out, stressed out, and tired from daily writing in the mid 2,000's range. Anyone who works too long or too hard on anything will sputter out after a certain amount of time. Expecting yourself, or anyone else, to keep going through that is frankly stupid and rather irresponsible. I was not producing my best writing in that state, and I knew I would stay on that track of sub-par production if something wasn't done. So I took a step back rather than mindlessly soldiering on, and both my mental health and quality of writing benefited from it.

No artist, writer or otherwise, should be expected to just keep blindly chugging forward on a project when stress and constant work is bringing down them and their craft. For the sake of mental health and the quality of work produced, artists need breaks. But they're also not the most common break takers in the world. So this is me telling you all to do it. Put a pause on it if you know you need time away, time to think over what your next creative move is, time to rest and return excited and energetic over the project again. There is no need to rush when going slow can do you and your work better.

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1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree. When I come to a place that I feel that I can't think or I get "stuck", I simply walk away from my writing--sometimes for a few hours (I'll take a walk with my dog or do a few household or yard chores) and sometimes I'll stay away for several days. When I return to my project, I'm usually refreshed and can continue on uninhibited.