Take a Break – Really

Are you like me? Have you been getting bogged down on e-mails, posts, following, commenting and everything else except getting your work in progress moving forward? Or maybe it is progressing, but not as well as you think it ought to. I really had planned to have my third installment of Earth’s Pendulum out by the end of 2012. Yeah, right. Not by a long shot.

But wait, I have good reasons excuses for not finishing it. Things happened. Other commitments got in the way. I had to change my whole approach after I was well into it, start over, almost. That really set me back on my heels. Then, family stuff, illness, holiday baking, company, trying to build a new website. Result – I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. My unfinished book languishes on my computer, abandoned, neglected, and alone. Why, I’ve been away from my WIP so long I think a couple of my characters must have died of old age in my absence. I suppose I’ll find out soon. If I can face them again.

So the guilt sets in. And I don’t even belong to the groups that stereotypically have a monopoly on guilt – unless you count ‘child of the holocaust’. But that is another story for another some-time. See how easily I let myself get distracted?

I imagine I am not the only one in this situation, especially right after the busy holiday season, the season when the distractions pile up and the tug is there to keep up traditions, to put others first and to let ourselves sink into the belief that what we do at our keyboards and notepads isn’t real work, so it doesn’t count, it can be put off.

Two days ago, while I was laid up with a seized back that literally prevented me from sitting for any period long enough to write, and the guilt had me by the -well you know what … I had a new thought. Yes, that can happen when you’re forced to stop the daily whirlwind. I think this one was a good thought.

Maybe I was looking at this all wrong. Sure, I took a break from writing. I concentrated for a short while (it’s not forever, right?) on making my family happy, on connecting with friends, on socializing, baking, cooking. Those were all important things to do. They gave me pleasure. They gave others pleasure. Those are good things, vital things.

I gave myself a break and did something different from the pressures of the daily grind in front of the computer. No need for guilt. No need for recriminations. No need for rationalizations. I needed this. It’s all a matter of perspective. While I was away from my computer I even had some ideas for new crises my characters would face, fresh directions I could take. All was not lost.

Looking back, I know I needed that break. Now it’s a new year. I am ready for a fresh beginning with renewed enthusiasm, and a more positive outlook. I believe I will get that book out this year and it will be a better book than the last one. It will also be better than it would have been had I not taken that hiatus.

So, while my break happened over the recent holiday season, for you it may happen at another time. I think that when life sends you in many directions at once and you just can’t seem to stay on track with the writing perhaps you need to take that break – really – a complete break away from your magnus opus. Stop and smell the roses, take that trip, go fishing (that one’s for you, Dan), read that book you’ve been denying yourself – in other words leave your WIP behind – totally – for a period. How long is up to you, it depends on what you need. I think you’ll know it’s up when the lights start coming on again and those characters call you back. They will, and the results will make you happy you let them be for a while. Just wait and see.

May 2013 be the year you break through and create your best work ever.

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Take a Break – Really”

  1. Good post, Yvonne. I just wrote a post for my own blog about how I spent the holidays knitting. But I had intended for my WIP to “ripen” until January, anyhow, honest. 🙂 Good luck with your third book — can’t wait to read it!

  2. Unfortunately for me, my break usually happens at harvest time. I trade in the comfort of my air conditioned house to go into the fields and pick up several hundred bales of hay. I come in every night itchy and with hay in every conceivable crease and body part. But, I get a much needed mental break, which after all the physical toil, makes me more than ready to get back to the CLEAN business of writing. If weather is good, I get 2 of these mental holidays a year. If not, one happily suffices!

    Excellent post!

  3. Good article. It pretty much sums up what happens to me somewhere along the line with each book I write. I’m just coming out of my “break,” and feel refreshed and renewed. This will be my seventh book, and for some reason I’ve felt compelled to write one book each year. But, guess what? It just doesn’t work that way. Oh sure, I know we must be disciplined, organized, and all that other stuff – but, we also need to be inspired. I don’t care what anyone says, creative writing (which, in my case, is what I do) is just that: creative. All the discipline and organization in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans if we’re not inspired. So, I agree with you, Yvonne. Take a break; then wait until you’re inspired. It will come; I guarantee it.

  4. We must be related! I had planned to have my second series book out by the end of 2012 too. After a time off with my back and the holidays I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I enjoyed the festivities and planned my writing calendar for the New Year. I am confident that 2013 will be the year the second book gets published!

  5. I told myself I would start my fourth book in December. Yeh. Wrote one paragraph.

    I feel encouraged by your post, Yvonne. You’re right, when it hits you and the characters call you back, you know it’s time. I’m doing reviews and have just taken on some editing projects, plus trying to get my son’s quilt done before he leaves for Brasil at the end of the month. It may be awhile before I reacquaint myself with my fictional people.

    Every book I have written was spun off from a nightmare. I’m still waiting for the one to kick off this next manuscript. (oh joy…)

  6. I took an enforced break when dad passed in October. It did me good. Then the holidays happened, and I had no guilt in walking away from WIP. Again, it did me good. Today, I started again. New ideas popped into my head, and Mr. Enthusiasm is back.

    Talking of back, hope yours is OK, and you find a way of reviving your characters. Good luck for 2013.

  7. Amen! That’s what I did with The Nightly-Edition. It was a forced hiatus, and it worked. NaNoWriMo turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me and the story. Sometimes a break isn’t just a nice thing to have, it’s a necessity to keep ourselves centred and grounded. The brain can become overloaded, it’s good to let it breathe.
    Good luck for 2013!

    1. Thanks RJ. We so often get caught in guilt when we are not producing. It actually can destroy our enthusiasm and creativity. I’m glad your break worked so well. You know I’m an admirer.

  8. Oh, Yvonne–thanks for this post. I was beating myself up because I hadn’t written my next novel by the time I had planned. And now I’m good to go, not feeling too guilty, realizing other folks had the same kinds of issues. We’re always hardest on ourselves, eh?

    I hope 2013 is a fabulous year for you!

    1. You’re welcome. I’m glad to relieve some of the pressure. We are often our own worst enemies.
      And I have high hopes for all of us for 2013. Especially if we all stick together.

  9. Thank you, Yvonne! All writers need breaks from the writing process. Our moments of greatest inspiration often come during those periods. I appreciate knowing that we share those feelings of guilt, for not producing what we intended, exactly on schedule. Enjoying the freedom to “just be” is essential to my mental and physical health.

  10. Bravo Yvonne! I took my enforced Christmas break too and felt so guilty the whole time I was away form the computer, that it wasn’t a break at all. My mind whirled away and I kept playing with my WIP but not really doing anything positive with it. Since then, I haven’t been able to get back in the swing at all yet. I shall now take a few days “proper” break and deal with everything when my brain has had a holiday

    1. That’s a penalty of one day off the computer – for disrespect. If you won’t take a break, I’ll enforce one. It’s for your own good. This hurts me more than you. …..Ok, I’ll shut up now. You’re incorrigible anyway. 🙂

  11. Excellent post, Yvonne, and so true. I’ve become sooo distracted this year, I had planned on having two books out this year; what I have is a whole lot of writing done but nothing anywhere near ready for publication. 13 is my favourite number, so that and a short, enforced break will make this year phenomenal. I wish the same for you and all at IU.

  12. That’s the plan, Yvonne, but as Robert Burns would say: ‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, for promis’d joy!

  13. Sounds like a familiar theme! I didn’t feel very guilty taking a break over Christmas, but since I’ve been working like a fiend in January, my book is nearly done, but I’ve felt guilty about not keeping up with IU. There’s always something…

  14. Thanks for this, Yvonne! Glad to know I’m not the one. When my kids are off from school, it is especially hard for me.

Comments are closed.