How To Mentally Grapple With Writing When You Physically Can't | Writing Breaks


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash


Is it ever okay to take breaks from writing? I’m not talking about that fifteen minute dog walk in between writing sprints, I’m talking longer periods at a time away from your WIP like months or even years.


Contrary to what you believe, writing breaks are an essential part of the writing journey. Not only is it significant, it’s considered healthy. So yes, that 3-month hiatus from your writing you feel horrible taking last year? Don’t sweat it. No big deal.


Why Are Writing Breaks So Important?


Taking a break from anything in life can be beneficial in giving you a peace of mind.


Sometimes when we work so hard on something, whatever it may be, we can get so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we lose focus of everything else in life!


Writing is no different. We can get so involved in a writing project that we lose focus of everything else around us. And that’s a normal thing.


There’s absolutely no reason you should feel you’re a horrible person for romancing your WIP, know why? Because it means you have passion, a sense of drive, determination even. You’ve got your heart and soul planted firmly in your story and you’re consumed! It happens.


But what happens when your story has consumed your entire being and you have no clue what in the world is happening around you? It may be time to break away from your project.


The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn't be squandered - Harper Reed

Planned Breaks


Every now and again, a breakaway from your work in progress is a must. Planned breaks are ideal because you can step away and gain some refreshed eyes towards your project. You may even add new discovered elements after letting your work sit, which is great, especially if you were working on a project for a while and got stuck!


Planned breaks also allow you to celebrate the work that you have already started, which can keep you accountable and push you to finishing your WIP.


These kinds of breaks away from a project do not have to have any time constraints attached to them. Take as much time away from a project as you need or will allow yourself to have, but take a break.


Unplanned Breaks


There are unforeseen occasions where you will be forced to pull away from your project. You may have a family emergency, a health issue or some other unexpected interruption that will make you break.


What can you do in a scenario like this? The only human thing to do and that is to take care of whatever is in front of you first! Put your writing to the side and deal with whatever is calling you.


Maybe you need to break away for longer than expected, and that’s okay. Some things are not for you to control, and you must make peace with that being so. But if that is the case, is there anything you can do to keep your drive going for your project? Of course there is!


What To Do In The Between Time Meantime


There are a multitude of things that can still be done when you just can’t physically get the writing accomplished. You can still keep those creative juices flowing by reading, journaling, listening to podcasts and music, drawing, painting, watching genre specific movies and TV shows that fall into similar categories as your WIP, brainstorming new ideas, taking walks, exercising and so much more!


Being proactive in any way that you can will help you stay creative and hopefully be able to get back to writing.


Ways To Keep The Momentum


If none of the former sounds at all desirable to you, then I’d like to add another suggestion, voice record. It’s simple, easy and can keep the writing going in audio format.


You can use any voice recorder that you have to do this, and one of the best things about having a phone during these times is that you have an automatic voice recorder already built into your phone! Voila! Take that unplanned break!


Record exactly where you left off, create notes, brainstorm key elements or new discoveries, you can literally keep your WIP going strong in this way. Try it and let me know how it’s working for you : )


Gearing Up To Get Back In The Game


So life has given you a break (finally) and you got the motivation and dedication to get back your WIP. Do you just jump back in, all guns blazing? Heck nah! Especially after a super duper long break. You’ll need to take some baby steps. It’s like losing the sensations in your leg after a Charlie horse (painful!), you don’t jump up and start running after one knocks you down; you tiptoe around until you regain enough strength to walk on your leg again.


Here are a few tips to get back in the swing of things:

  1. Short story writing or flash fiction

  2. Writing prompts

  3. Writing sprints

  4. Poetry

  5. Revisiting your old WIP


Doing some or all the above mentioned can help you regain those dormant writing muscles and get you back to what you know and love to do and that’s writing!




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