One of the greatest difficulties most writers have is finding the time in their busy lives to write. We’re often lucky if we can find a couple of hours at the end of the day after working to contribute to a household of partners/children/pets, feeding partners/children/pets, cleaning up after partners/children/pets and trying to maintain even a semblance of a social life. So when you know you’re going to have a week or two without one or all of these things, do you spend it writing or do you spend it actually having a break?
A lot of writers say the process needs to be treated like a job. You should do it every day, even if you don’t feel like it. If that’s the case, then surely you need to take a holiday from writing every once in a while as well.
But if time is at a premium in your normal life and you suddenly have a clear block of it in your schedule, shouldn’t you make the most of it?
Over the Christmas break, I often do no writing at all. In Australia, Christmas falls during the summer and as far as I’m concerned, summer is for reading so I do a lot of it. I do most of my writing in the spring and autumn (or fall depending on where you’re reading this) as I find summer too hot (to be stooped over a computer) and winter too cold (to do much of anything at all).
That decision is probably easy for me to make considering I’ve spent the majority of the past two years not working a second job, meaning I could devote a lot of time to my writing. For those who are more responsible than me and choose not to be so selfish, writing continually needs to be fitted in around a full-time job.
There are no easy answers. As with everything when it comes to writing, you just have to do what feels right for you. But I will leave with you this piece of advice: if everything you are writing is crap, then regardless of whether or not you want to, it’s time to take a break.
Taking a step back can often be the best thing for your writing. It gives you a chance to recharge. It’s give you a chance to think (a very underrated part of the writing process). It gives you a chance to look at the big picture (the whole story, the plot, the characters, the style) instead of just the small moments of individual chapters. And it gives you a chance to go back to your writing with a fresh perspective and renewed enthusiasm.
Happy holidays (whether you choose to write or not)!
*First published in Project December: A Book about Writing