I didn't post a blog last week. I also only wrote a few thousand words in my WIP in August. I didn't even open Scrivener or Twitter for a week while I was vacationing in Toronto, Canada (which I deemed "mandatory fun"). At first, I was worried that I was falling behind. Or worse. But you know what? That was necessary.
We writers can become obsessive creatures. It's in our DNA, so it's hard to shake that, especially when it comes to the thing that we love more than anything. When writing is the fiber that holds you together, it's hard to imagine separating yourself from it for periods of time. A day, a week, or even a month can feel debilitating. Our imaginations get clouded with thoughts of guilt. The pressure in our heads rises to the point where it's nearly impossible to think. We start to crumble as self-doubt cracks our walls.
Guess what? That guilt and that pressure and that self-doubt isn't you talking. It's the voices inside your head that aren't your voices.
How many memes and gifs have you seen in the last few days that articulates and romanticizes the obsession with writing? The ones about needing seventeen cups of coffee. Or how your characters will loathe you if you don't write today.
Or the writing prompts we see on Twitter and Instagram? And the hashtag challenges. Your writerly friends' Instagram stories and Snapchats about how "you should be writing!" Or the tweets that say, "I wrote 4,517 words today. Can't wait for Camp NaNoWriMo!"
And all you've been doing is living your life. How dare you!?
To answer that question, you dare to live. And that is absolutely necessary when it comes to writing.
These tweets and stories and all the other things can combine to be a collective monster made up of white noise and impersonal wisdom. It can lead to comparing yourself to others (which is rarely healthy, if ever) and the relentless consumption of impractical advice.
Your human and your mind needs a break. You have to give yourself space from everything in life. Sometimes you don't want to hang out with friends. Sometimes you want to encourage your kids to have a sleepover at someone else's house. Sometimes you need to sit at the bar alone. Sometimes you need a break from you and all the fictional characters that are part of you.
If you don't take a break, then you don't get the contrast you need to be objective. If you don't take a break, your brain can't breathe in the metaphorical fresh air it needs to comprehend what all is happening.
I encourage writers to meditate. And do it regularly. Whether it's fifteen minutes in the mornings or an hour once a week--carve out the quiet time. Allow your obsession to calm the heck down and let go. When it's time to come back, your perspective will be refreshed and the returning embrace will feel so much better.
Your writing and your characters will thank you for giving them a break, too. I promise.
You're not falling behind if you take time away from what you're doing. You're recharging. You're taking steps back before you leap forward. And when you take those steps back, you will leap much, much farther than you expected.
How are you going to carve time away this week? This month?