Basically the only writing advice writers at every level will agree on is just to, you know, actually write, and as much as you possibly can––every day, if you can swing it. So maybe you’re one of the disciplined writers out there following this advice? Maybe you’re on a roll; maybe writing every day has really helped you stack up the pages.
Perhaps it’s time to take a day off from writing. Heresy?
Well, here are five really good reasons to consider taking a day or two off from writing.
1. Get new experiences. The most obvious reason of all… Storytellers have basically one obligation, and that’s to tell new stories. Taking time off to travel, go on an adventure with friends, or even just read a really difficult book will pay dividends in your writing.
2. Love your work. Yes, it’s good to be disciplined and write when you don’t feel like it, to find that you can write even when you HATE writing. But I don’t particularly want to read writing from someone who doesn’t enjoy what they’re writing. If you find that writing has become so much like a job that you don’t get excited about the act of crafting new work––then take a break.
3. Take some lessons. Take a break from your main project to learn some new tricks. If you’re not getting better, you’re dying. I’ve met plenty of people out there who are weirdly concerned that “learning to write” will somehow strip them of their natural talents and make them sound like “every other writer.” This is not the case. For one thing, none of us are really good enough learners that we can just absorb someone else’s style. But learning the techniques of other writers is super useful, and will help you understand your own writing and your own style so much better. In addition, the act of concentrating on writing without actually writing often lets your material percolate, very productively, in the back of your mind.
4. Mentor another writer. Take some time off from your own work to really get involved in helping someone else’s writing. If you’re an experienced writer, staying involved with up-and-coming writers is one of the best ways to stay true to your roots, to help you remember what made you fall in love with writing in the first place.
5. Get Involved. Most of us write in our “free time,” which means we don’t have much time to get as involved in our communities as we might like. Take some time off and join an organization, volunteer at an animal shelter, help someone. Remember that the world is as filled with small and lovely things as with darkness.