So for the past two weeks, I’ve been enjoying a good break from writing and the accompanying pressure from trying to fit writing into my schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I love to write, and as I’ve said many times, I’m a better human being when I get the opportunity to do so and make the time for it. However, maybe it’s my personality or maybe I simply have more opportunity, but I find I am more productive and do better in my work (whether it’s writing or whatever my occupation happens to be at the moment) when I make sure to take a break.
When I was working full-time and got days off, I had that little niggling guilty feeling every time I would take a sick day or when I arranged a vacation (at my last job, you didn’t have to distinguish between the two – you got days off and you could use them how you saw fit, which I thought was smarter). You feel like you’re letting down your team or slacking off or lazy or what have you. But I made sure to take every day off and every vacation day anyway. For court reporting school, we follow every government holiday. While that means four fewer hours per holiday we have to practice – which you’d think would be a harm for a developing a skill that requires a lot of weekly practice – I take advantage of the time off to spend with family or writing or reading or getting a coffee, because I know that I am a better worker when I take a break.
Even daily, I find making time for a rest actually energizes me for the rest of the day. My cat demands a nap time with me around 1-2 p.m. (seriously, he bugs the crap out of me until I do), and while I cannot nap (not how my sleep cycle works), I find that lying down with him and shutting my eyes for about 20-30 minutes makes a huge difference in my afternoon energy levels, which is usually when I fade out before re-awakening in the evening.
So yeah, I’m taking a break. After four straight months of staying up late and getting hooked on caffeine (which I really need to unhook as soon as possible) and watching the naturally puffy, dark circles under my eyes get more pronounced, I think it’s a good idea. I’ll start on my nightmare novel rewrite on August 11 or 12, the beginning of my non-work week (still have school during the day, but my evenings are open). But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the opportunity to get to bed a little earlier. I’m also catching up on movies that I have but hadn’t watched yet. So far, the movie list is V for Vendetta, A Tale of Two Sisters, Pan’s Labyrinth, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, The Rite, and Underworld. I also spent a good portion of last Sunday making jewelry that’s been waiting for a chance to get made. Don’t know when I’ll get to photograph it – probably Labor Day – but at least I’m building inventory in time for fall and winter sales (summer is notoriously slow).
Taking a break also gives me time to plot on the things I’m unsure of for the next novels. I’ve already figured out what I’m going to do for next year’s novels (if there is a 2013) as well as a good portion of the nightmare novel changes. Even on my breaks, I’m doing some work, but there’s less pressure and I get to exercise other forms of creativity. In the end, it prepares me to jump into the next project much more effectively than if I were doing nothing but writing all the time. The last thing I want to do is burn myself out or have writing become a chore.