Why I’m Taking a Break from #Writing

One thing I hear over and over again is that writers should keep writing, no matter what.

That you need to do it every day to keep the momentum, even if it’s a small number of words. That you have to keep going even if you don’t feel like it. That the only way to get better at the craft is to sit down in front of the computer and crank and churn and sweat and bleed (and sometimes scream or cry or both). That in order to get any presence, you have to release 2-3, sometimes 4 or more, books a year.

source: MamPrint

source: MamPrint

But you know what? I disagree. At some point, you burn out.

I’m not one of those writers who can sit down and slap out thousands of words to make a daily, weekly or monthly deadline. I’m also not one of those writers who can write just for the sake of writing. For me, the minute I start focusing on quantity above all else, the quality suffers. And then I’m no longer storytelling. It’s just writing. In my mind, there’s a tremendous difference between the two.

Sure, we could argue that you should just let the creative side of you take over and bang out words because you can always edit later. The problem for me is that if I worked it that way, the editing would take longer than had I taken the time to write the way I wanted to from the start. (And let’s not forget about the day job that also has to be juggled!)

It’s for this reason I’ve decided to extend my writing break a little bit more. I recently realized I’ve stopped storytelling and was only putting words on a page. Okay, more like slobbering them on a page. And yes, I treat my writing like a business and I take it seriously. I know in my heart the difference between when a scene hums and when my heart is no longer in it.

I also know when it’s become too much.

As of right now, it’s too much.

That’s why I’m going to ignore all those people who say you have to write every day and that a writer’s life is 24/7. That you can’t make a business out of your storytelling unless you pump out story after story after story. But you know what? I’d rather release one story that I know is my best in nine months’ time than two or more in fifteen or eighteen months. I’m a writer but I’m also a reader, and I know when a story grabs. And when I started this writing business years and years ago, I made a promise to not only become a better writer with each book, but to make each book the very best it could be — and grab. And forcing myself to write, or just throwing words on a page, isn’t going to make that happen.

source: satty4u

source: satty4u

Maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but hell. I’m going to come out of the closet and say it anyway.

So yeah, until Labor Day, I’m on an extended writing holiday to find peace of mind, to find some writing sanity, and to enjoy life without feeling chained to words that just won’t come.

And I’m not going to feel guilty while I find my balance.

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About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense.
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36 Responses to Why I’m Taking a Break from #Writing

  1. Marie says:

    Thanks for your inspirational words, Terri. After just finishing the writing of my sequel, with promoting my current release and the numerous other things I have to do on a daily basis (including a side job), I feel totally burnt out. I need a break. I know I have to start revisions on my current manuscript, but the passion isn’t there. Not to mention I have a creative block at the moment on any other works in progress. This idea is definitely appealing to me right now.

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  2. I agree with all of you. It’s so unfair that indies are expected to produce multiple books a year and still meet critical standards for their work. I rushed to get my first two novels on Amazon within three months of each other, and I now regret it. Not only did I churn and burn, but I know that both books could have benefited from additional edits and revisions.

    May you return from your hiatus refreshed and renewed, Terri.

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    • terriponce says:

      Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Linda. Though we’re expected to churn, readers benefit more by waiting for a book that’s the best it can be.

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    • Terri, I posted your blog on my Facebook author page and regular page as well. I hope that you don’t mind, but what you put into words was too important not to share. Thank you for giving a voice to our frustration and stress–and for helping us indies to assess what we’re doing and why we write in the first place.

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      • terriponce says:

        Wow again. I’m loving all the love — and I’m thrilled I was able to hit home with what I thought was a simple message. As authors, we’ve got too much to worry about so it’s important to focus most on the writing, including when to take a break

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  3. Raita says:

    2 to 4 books a year? Yikes! I could never. I don’t even count words I write each day. Sometimes I’m “in the zone” and I keep writing hours and hours, sometimes I’m not. Such is life. So, 2 to 4 books a year is definitely too much for me, assuming my books contain more than 25 pages (as they do).

    I need to enjoy writing. Otherwise, it is going to show in every single word I type. In addition, going through the story in my mind also counts as “writing”, even though it doesn’t involve typing. I’m still working with the book nevertheless.

    You gotta live between your projects. For me real life and real life stories are inspiring. So, taking a break from writing is not only important, but for me it is somewhat essential to keep myself inspired.

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    • terriponce says:

      Raita – I think about writing and storytelling all the time. ALL the time. So even my breaks aren’t really breaks if you take into account all the writing-related things that happen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  4. I can’t really add anything that hasn’t already been said other than say that I enjoyed your post and the well thought out responses.

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  5. I’m with you, Terri. A break refuels my creative engine. This month is clean the closets month, scrub the tub, sweep the floor, pick beans clean and toss out the plants, weed wack the yard, anything but write.

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  6. djewkes says:

    You are not alone Terri. I’ve been on a break for a while. I tried to write, just to write. I was so unhappy with what I was seeing, I stopped. With my day job and family obligations I couldn’t do it. I was beginning to resent something I love, so I stopped for a long time. I am finally feeling the desire to open the manuscript I was working on and jump back in. So, I’m with you…if you need a break, don’t worry about what others are doing or saying. You are the teller of your tales and only you know when the time is right to tell them!

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  7. Perfectly understandable. I don’t have the time or energy to write during the summer. I have to blog once a week for my publisher but I neglect my own blog and focus mostly on social media – when I can squeeze it in. I think it can be a healthy thing to take a step back, exhale a deep breath, and find your energy and inspiration again. You’re right. You can’t force it. Just don’t let your break extend indefinitely. That would be sad for you and all of us who enjoy your work.

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  8. Penn says:

    I hope you felt the load being taken off you when you made that decision. Remember what it felt like and revisit it when things get too much again.

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  9. Pingback: Slow Writing – Or, When Did Writing Stop Being About Writing? – Lynn Reynolds - Author

  10. Go, Terri. Enjoy your holiday. I’m having one of those this week, too — and am reading a lot, which helps me recharge.

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  11. Wonderful POST!!! And something we all need to hear. You are spot on, Terri. Writers are artist. We can’t just slap 5000 words on a page everyday and keep our sanity. With the pressures of writing the next book, revisions, promotions, and everything in between, it makes this wonderful journey we are all on seem so overwhelming. I with you, Terri, and will admit that I need to find balance. I have dreamed of being right where I am for so long, I can’t allow myself to burn out. I need to take time for myself and do something other than write, revise and promote. A guilt free few days off will not kill a career. Not taking those few days off will.

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    • terriponce says:

      Thanks for swinging by, Nancy, and so wonderful of you to post on my blog. Truly thankful! And I’m thrilled to see that we’re all feeling the same way. What a relief to know I’m not alone.

      Like

  12. Every single job requires a vacation to prevent burnout. Writing is a job. I will say that the year I had cancer I stopped writing for months, but when I came back to it, my writing was better for the break. I take short periodic breaks now all the time and I think my writing is improving. Each writer has to do what works best for her.

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    • terriponce says:

      That’s an incredible story you’ve shared, Terrie. So wonderful of you to do so. And you’re right…each one of us has to find what works for us. I easily get caught up in some blogs that tell you how you have to do things, and then I start to wonder if there’s something wrong with me that I can’t do it the same way. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m finally understanding that writing is different for everyone.

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  13. Right on! I’ve taken breaks whey I just couldn’t stand the thought of more writing. Those breaks were sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months. I came back to writing when ideas started churning in my head. I knew then I was ready to write again. I’m in an “off” period right now and I’m not worried about it. The muse will be back.

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  14. I agree, Terri. I write when I feel like it. I am not consistent, and I haven’t suffered from it (at least that’s what others tell me when they read my writing). Right now, I’m reediting works I created long ago. I’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment in reviving these stories.

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    • terriponce says:

      Isn’t it wonderful when you go back and find those nuggets you started so long ago? Unfortunately, my nuggets are more like volcanic rock — dried up pieces that probably will never become anything more. 🙂

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  15. Claire says:

    I agree, Terri. We should write a lot because you (hopefully) get better when you do something frequently, but there’s a point at which you need to stop if for the only reason that not stopping sometimes means making the same mistakes over and over.

    Think about a play rehearsal or sports practice. You can get into the wrong groove and your body, which is supposed to be controlled by the mind, has developed a pattern – for better or worse.

    If you want to improve or change that pattern, it can help to break the cycle, i.e., STOP doing what you’re doing. Go do something else. Let your body or mind unfocus for a while from that pattern.

    I also find that removing myself from the conscious thought of writing helps my subconscious mind work on its own, without my conscious interference. The result is always better than what I was doing before.

    claire

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    • terriponce says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Claire, and for stopping by. I wonder when we learned to feel so guilty about taking time out for ourselves? In my case, it really kills my creativity.

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  16. Terri, I couldn’t agree more. And sometimes, it even makes me a little angry when other writers make me feel like less of a writer because I don’t churn out 2000 or 10000 or even 200 words a day. I write when the words I want come, not the words that fill a page.

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    • terriponce says:

      I think there’s something to be said for keeping a writing rhythm, and for consistency. But when I churn, I burn. When I send churned out content to my beta reader, she throws it right back and says, “Try again. You were rushing this one.”

      Like

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