On Writing: Why Taking a Break From Writing is Good For You

Sometimes the words don't come.

Sometimes I don't even want the words to come.

Sometimes I want stillness, and silence, and a sense of something staying the way it is.

Sometimes I question the hours, days, weeks I don't write a new word or edit a group of old ones.

Sometimes I know undeniably that a break is what I need. Sometimes that's a bigger truth than the sun.

Why taking a break from writing is good for you

When I take a break from writing I create this stillness and silence that I crave, but I also begin a new conversation. I firstly tell myself that it's okay to not write for a while. I remind myself that focusing on other things will also progress my journey albeit in a roundabout way. I reassure the questioning part of me that I have always come back from writing breaks. I am too invested in writing to walk away completely...

Secondly, I promise myself to spend the time wisely. Whether that's working on another creative or professional project (which has recently been these special cards), going on a dream holiday, or whether that's just spending time with my family, I direct my energy to these things with confidence that they will take me places I need to go as a person and as a writer. A writer must live a little in order to have something to write about. Also, this writer needs to pay her bills.

After I've done some gentle reassuring and some determined pledging, I let myself get on with whatever I need to get on with. I don't dwell on not writing. At some point, inevitably, I enjoy it. I enjoy letting go of the invisble obstacles that had stopped me writing or slowed me down. I fool myself that I've hurdled my way over them, but in reality I've just taken a scenic detour that will lead me back to them eventually, though they will possibly change shape or size in my absence. 

When to stop taking a break and get back to it...

I enjoy the break, until I don't. Because I've written regularly for long enough that it is now a bit like cleaning my teeth or washing my sheets - I don't always want to do it and I can afford to be late skip it a few times in my lifetime - but I'll always go back to it. It just feels and is wrong not to. That's when I start thinking about the journey back home to whatever it was I was working on and that's when I start to see those familiar but slightly altered obstacles... I sigh a little because they're still there, but I find my sighing isn't as deep as it used to be because I'm a little fuller and less hollow because of the rest I've had and the break I've enjoyed...

What I don't realise is that it is the changing of shape and size that I need to happen. I don't need to avoid the challenges, but rather approach them from a different angle, to see them from a different perspective. And sometimes only taking a break will help me gain that new and enabling perspective.

And as Banksy (apparently) wisely said, 'If you're tired learn to rest, not to quit."

The cards featured in the photo in this post are WriteNOW Cards - affirmation cards designed for writers to help you build and enjoy your writing practice - they're available to buy in packs of 10 or 50 here, with free shipping.

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Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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