I spend a lot of time talking to other writers about discipline. As someone who juggles multiple jobs, family, and other obligations and still finds time to write on a daily basis, I’m generally considered a good example of it.
I know how to organize and simplify and find the time. I am the one my writer friends come to when they need a kick in the pants and to be told the hard truth when they are frittering their time away.
But something I’m not exactly the epitome of is knowing when to bend.
See, the thing is, as much as writers absolutely need discipline, they have an equal need for its opposite. For everything there is a season and all that.
In order to be happy, productive writers, it’s imperative that we know when to give ourselves a break…
When to Play.
I find this really hard. I have a phobia of losing momentum and getting page fright. And, frankly, when you stay as busy as I am, it’s quite hard to switch off “work” mode and flip into “relax”.
Very often what I call relaxing causes my husband to say “That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The downside of this kind of tactic is that eventually my body and brain just flat wear out until I’m knocked on my butt by illness or migraine or a total inability to keep my eyes open. Epic burnout. And what happens then? My brain refuses to work for me and I usually fall into a mire of exhaustion that leaves me unproductive for much longer than I would have been with a little planned time off.
Now everybody has different needs in terms of what helps them recharge and how long of a rest they may need. For me, taking a day off every week during an active project seems to be about right. I’ll read something awesome or nap or hang out in my kitchen testing out new recipes for my food blog, and when I come back the following day, I’m usually fresher and clearer than I was when I left off.
Now certainly, if I’m motivated to write on what ought to be my day off, I will. But it makes it easier on myself when I plan to have a day off, when I can forgive the lack of new words. I’m not crippled by a sense of failure that I didn’t produce because I gave myself permission to not write. And that’s a very freeing thing.
So that’s your lesson for the week, folks. Learn when to bend. Take that break, guilt free. Just be sure to set some parameters for when you’ll be getting back to work.