Originally published as a Guest Post on VMDarkAngelo.com on March 20, 2019.
I didn’t realize how much I needed a break until I got back from a two-week vacation. Now, before you run away, rolling your eyes, saying, “Oh yeah, I’d love to take a two-week vacation. But I’m a writer, Stephanie. My pockets aren’t that deep.” Mine either, which is why it took us almost three years to plan, and we stayed at my best friend’s house to save money.
And hear me out. I took not one, but TWO toddlers with me. Two Tiny Teething Toddler Terrorists. Across the country, from Virginia to Hawaii. It was an 18 hour travel day and a five hour time difference to adjust to. There’s nothing—nothing—relaxing about that.
Okay good. You’ve decided to give me a second chance. Let’s get back to the topic at hand and why a break, however you’re able to take one, is a good and necessary thing as a writer.
I’m sure there’s actual science behind this, but the brain is like a muscle. It’s important to give it some healthy exercise, but then you need to have a rest day. Only when it comes to creative juices, you might need more than that. Giving your brain a longer break allows it to see things with a fresh, recharged perspective.
When I got back from vacation, after taking two whole weeks off of all things writing including my daily social media posts, I’d regained the excitement I hadn’t felt since I first started my manuscript. Man, I was pumped to get back into it. And honestly, I read my story as if I’d never read it before and I loved it, even in all its messy glory.
As I write this blog post, I just finished massive revisions after receiving feedback from my developmental editor. Over 9,000 words cut, never to be seen again. My brain is mush. I’m taking the weekend off when I would normally keep working on it so that I can start another round of editing on Monday—hand edits on paper. And I’ve been procrastinating writing this post, so hey! Win-win.
“This is a house of learned doctors.” If I came from such a house, here is what my writer’s prescription would look like:
After you finish writing your story or manuscript, take a few days off (at least) before you look at it again. Go meet up with those friends you’ve been bailing on to get your word count in.
After every round of edits, take a few days off. Work on something else if you have to, but don’t look at the story you just edited.
When you’re struggling to make changes or know where to go next or how to change those words you know need to change, print your manuscript. Seeing it in a new format tricks your brain. Yes, there’s science behind this, too. It’s at the corner of Google and Look-It-Up-Yourself.
Ta ta for now!