Why A Break From Writing Will Kill Your Spirit

    You’ve probably heard this story before about how I used to write articles.

    As the story goes, it used to take me two days to write a single article. The process was so painful that I’d write the next article after a month. And as you’d expect, the two days of that month and all the months to follow were miserable.

    Then I started up a membership site called 5000bc

    5000bc was bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, back in the year 2003. So I promised my members I’d write five articles a week. Of course, you can see the disaster unfolding, can’t you? If I struggled to write an article a day, five articles a week was going to send me right to the cuckoo club.

    But something weird happened instead.

    I got faster

    I found that the more I had to write, the faster I got. Every week, those five articles needed to be written (whether any one read them or not), so I forced myself to write. And I did mention that it got faster, but it also got easier. Hah! Now how on earth would that make sense? But it does, doesn’t it?

    If you run from your home to your supermarket, with all your sides jiggling, it’s going to be huff and puff all the way. But do that every day, and then extend it to five times a week, and voilà, the jiggles go away. My jiggles were mostly in my brain. The more I wrote, the faster I became.

    And then I went on vacation

    On vacation, you take a break. You eat, drink and make merry. And return to what seems to be a writer’s block. But of course, that makes sense too. If you run every day, then don’t run for a month, you’re bound to feel the resistance. So I decided to keep writing.

    I didn’t write about work on vacation. I wrote a diary instead. It was interesting to write the diary and most importantly, my writing never stopped.

    But would you have to write every single day of your life just to avoid this silly blockage?

    Good question. It’s one I asked myself as well. The answer, thankfully, is no. I now go on vacation, and if I don’t write a word, I can come back and get right into writing without missing a beat. So what’s happened? How have things changed?

    What’s happened over the years, is that I’ve written so much that it’s now no longer a skill

    It’s second nature. Just like you’d go to a foreign country, speak their language and come back to your own country and pick up speaking English once again. So it is with article writing. If you keep at it, you will get better and at some point it will become second nature.

    You’ll be able to take chunky breaks.

    But for now, you need to write

    Write when you’re feeling great.
    Write when you’re feeling down.
    Write about your work. Or just write about your miserable, freakin’ day.

    But write. If you don’t write, resistance creeps in. You hear the jiggle.

    You know you’re doomed

    Un-doom yourself. Just write.
    Breaks are for the jiggly ones!

    A guest post by Sean D’Souza. Sean is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. To read more articles by Sean, and get a very useful free report on “Why Headlines Fail”, go to PsychoTactics.com

     

    About the author

      Sean D'Souza

      Sean D'Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. Read more by Sean on Psychotactics.com

    • Sean,

      I love the way you compare writing to exercising. And yes, they’re both habits! Thanks for sharing the different milestones on your writing journey! 🙂

    • Robert says:

      Nice post but patrick to write different thing you hsould have knowledge of that .If you donot have knowledge and it’s very difficult to wirte

    • Patrick says:

      Excellent post. I like that you also advise people that its ok to write different things, as long as you write *something*.

    • I am not a prolific writer and yet I write daily. How we write is a unique experience. Vacations are disastrous for me. It always takes me a while to get back in the writing zone after a long break. I am going to buy a tiny laptop the next time I go away so that I can keep my finger on the pulse.

      A particularly relevant article for emerging writers.

      cheers

      Carole

    • really a good and knowledge post .Really this thing I never thinks i n y dreams > i wrote many time but i never keep this type of thing in my writng at the time of writing .Really good

    • Thank you for contributing this article and I would like you to know that I really enjoyed reading it.

      It depends.

      Meaning: there is no one size fits all solution: what works for you may not work for other people.

      Just as taking a break can result into the heebie jeebies for a lot of us folks, for others taking a break is just what the doctor ordered.

      I find that taking a break helps me to focus better and gives me a sense that I have earned that break. After slogging, many people find that a break is refreshing and helps their spirits to soar like an eagle in the sky.

      On the other hand, there are people who become complacent after a break. Lethargy seeps in and they may find it difficult to return to work: the momentum and motivation are lacking; they roll over and play dead.

      There are people who force themselves to write and there are people like yours truly who would rather wait for divine inspiration to strike and for the magic of words to unfold slowly but surely. To each his own.

      Cheers.

    • Marla says:

      I have found that the more I write the easier it is, even when I take a break, but I do agree with you. It’s very important to get consistently used to doing it, or it won’t be easy. It’s like playing the guitar, when you don’t play it for a couple years, you kind of forget.

    • The timing of this article is amazing Sean. Three weeks ago one of those Big Life Curves smacked me upside the head and suddenly I couldn’t write, at all. I couldn’t even read, which is beyond odd as I’ve always had a book in my nose, (and am still struggling to concentrate on reading).

      But the important thing is that I have kept writing. Not the flash pieces and short stories, and nonfiction articles I normally write, but I’ve been journaling every day, (which has always been the way I release my pain and confusion). I created a new folder called “The Rough Patch” and it’s the only folder I’ve saved anything to in those three weeks. Just yesterday I was able to look back at some of those entries, (including dreams I’ve had), and I can see that some day I may likely be able to use some of the material, either for stories or for nonfiction articles to help others who may be going through this same rough patch I am now.

      I was tempted yesterday not to write at all, I was just flat out of energy, but I ignored that temptation and opened a Word doc anyway, and ended up writing three pages. Yes, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we must write every single day. Thanks so much for the important reminder.

    • I love the running metaphor. It actually does express what I felt when I first started blogging. At first I could write whenever, but then I started to be on deadline with as many as 6 posts per week. I definitely became a much more lean (but not so mean) writing machine. In October I’m planning a poem a day for the entire month, and in November, I’m doing NaNoWriMo.

      Thanks for the push!

    • I loved this post – so much so that I included a link on my blog. It inspired me.

      Deborah

    • Priska says:

      Very helpful for a beginner writer. You have made me aware that writing is a habit just like any other. That habit needs to be developed through daily ritual, just like brushing your teeth.
      When we were young we hated to brush our teeth and would get away with it if we could, even stopped if we could get away with it. But with the constant persuasion of our parents it became a habit, if we find ourselves in a situation where it can’t be done, we’ll go back because it is what we do.
      And so it is with writing, in the beginning we need to be coerced and reminded until we reach the stage where writing is what we do.

    • As I’m slowly gearing up for this year’s NaNoWriMo and this article came at a perfect time. The daily goal of 1,667 seems nigh impossible from this side of November, but I know that by the end of the month it won’t seem like much at all.

      But even after a double-handful of NaNo’s, I still hit that brick wall in December when the daily writing peters out to nothing. I think I’ll print out this article and tape it over my desk for October– maybe if I start the habit early it will be easier to keep the momentum going! 🙂

    • Jevon says:

      I’ve got some jiggles to get off so I’ll try your advice. Thanks.

    • Agreed. Definitely true. You do get faster. I notice, too, that after I plan out my articles, I sometimes decide a certain one is too hard. But I’ve been forcing myself to write it anyway (unless it really is a bad idea) and I’ve been getting it done. And like you said, it’s getting easier.

    • Kimberly says:

      Thank you for writing this article. I’m inspired and greatly helped by you passing on your writing experience. I now have a ‘path’ to follow. I can feel the dirt road, the greenery on either side as I walk, run, and finally sprint towards the light.

    • Anabelle says:

      People need to get this idea out of their heads that writing means *great* writing every time.

      Every writer writes crap, and you need to give yourself the space to write crap. I write crap when I wake up and before I go to bed. I let myself write badly, write freely, write without punctuation or even proper sentence structure.

      And then when it comes the time to do the real writing, I leave myself a wide range to work with, knowing that I can always come back and rewrite.

    • Wendy Reid says:

      Sean, this was a great article and one that I really needed to read. Writing is something that I really enjoy doing, but it’s also something I need to push myself to do. I am writing my 3rd book and it’s rather imperative that it be ready to publish by the end of this year and it is taking me forever to get it done. It seems that I find every reason under the sun to avoid writing and I’m not even sure why I do this.

      It was very comforting to know that others have gone through this as well and that it doesn’t mean that I’m talentless, just unmotivated. I need to force myself to write everyday, even if it isn’t for the book, so that it becomes second nature. It helps to know that it will get easier as time goes by.

      Thank you for sharing this.

    • Trudi says:

      Thanks for the great article. It comes at the perfect time for me. I’ve been reading about Habits to try and make some changes in my life. I’ve been trying to identify the keystone habit to start with. And of course now it’s abundantly clear. Thanks Again.

    • Thank you Thank you Thank you! I’ve just been through the vacation slough and thought there was something wrong with me! It’s a relief to know that I’m not alone!

    • Wow, this is a powerful post and motivator. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Love your take on this, Sean. Like everything else, we can sometimes succeed if we build good habits to
      get us there. Eating healthy, exercising, writing. They all become easier and second nature if we work through the tough times and make them a habit. It’s the getting there that can be challenging. So I would add that
      you have to love writing to begin with–or at the very least have a strong desire to see if you can love it. It’s easier to form a good habit and avoid writer’s block, when you can reread at least one or two of your efforts and say HEY, I LOVE THIS. I LOVE DOING THIS.

      Thanks again.

    • Liz McGee says:

      Hey Sean,

      Great reassuring post. We writers need that.

      Writing is a skill and a skill is meant to be practiced, A LOT! I’m actually going to take you up on your suggestion to write all the time, about everything.

      Thanks, Liz

    • Shannan says:

      I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for some time. Lately I’ve been indulging in various creative activities such as baking and decorating and oddly that has helped me with getting myself to sit down and write. Perhaps any creative activities can help with writer’s block. The creative mind is so fed and happy that it doesn’t hear the inner critic.

      Your article brings to mind the old saying “if you want something done give it to a busy person.”

    • I agree with your overall point, Sean. If you’re not comfortable with writing you should write every day until you DO become comfortable. I disagree that this is not a skill. Of course it is!!

      It’s the skill part that MAKES it seem like second nature. Writing is a skill. You get better with more practice. And more people should practice….

    • Sean,

      Thanks for that much needed reminder and encouragement. You’re spot on about the jiggles eventually going away. This is a discipline that will serve every part of our life, especially writing.

    • Loved this Sean – simple but so right.
      Has lots of parallels in life. Reminded me don’t wait for perfection, it never comes, just keep doing it until it’s second nature.
      Also announcing a target to the world, as you did, is a great motivator!

    • Even if it sucks, even if you’d rather be doing anything else, you’ve got to write. If only everyone could follow this lesson. I constantly find myself pushing myself to write, since, by the time I get home, I’m all burned out.
      Still, the best thing to do in that situation is write, as you may actually produce something worthwhile. I’ve always found that writing while down in the dumps produces some of my best stuff.
      There really is no such thing as a time when you shouldn’t be writing. At its best, it can be theraputic, and at its worst, you can always just delete it.


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