Oh, not a long break. Don't leave that manuscript or that article long enough that it collects a thick layer of dust. No, I'm advocating for a short leave...just long enough to jar your thinking and get your creative juices flowing again. And here are some possibilities:
Handwork—If you knit/crochet/carve Justin Bieber statuettes out of prune pits, moving away from your computer and—for twenty minutes or so—doing something else frees up your mind. You're using your fine motor skills in a different way than tapping away on your keyboard. Then, return to the piece you're working on.
Cooking—Cook a quick side dish or toss a salad. If it's a dish that evokes lots of memories, your culinary creation might lead to future writing ideas. Varied textures and tastes, along with distinct aromas, occupy our minds in unique ways. Then, put your butt back in your chair...
Manual Labor—Okay, here is where the snow reappears. Getting away from your writing and doing something that makes you sweat (like shoveling snow) or gives you some immediate gratification (like scrubbing your bathtub) lets your mind loose, allowing you to return to your writing—rejuvenated.
Something Epistolary—I have a friend who writes letters—dozens of handwritten letters every week, and she is a fierce writer. There must be some method to her madness, so there there are occasions when I put aside whatever submission I'm working on and write a letter. Yes, I'm still writing, but I'm using a completely different process, and as I see the inked (and sometimes illegible) words form on the paper, it gets my brain headed in new directions. Then, get back to your draft.
Exercise—This could mean running back and forth between your chair and the cupboard, getting a handful of chocolate chips each time. It could mean lifting some weights. It could mean doing a bit of Pilates or taking a brisk walk. Then put your rear end (and it might be leaner, after enough “breaks,” unless you take Hershey breaks) back in your writing chair.
Conversation—Talk to a writing friend about what you're working on. This could be over the phone or in person. Taking the time to discuss your writing obstacles, whether it's just a quick chat or a critique session, is extremely valuable. And listening is just as important. Hearing what other writers are working on can spark something in your head.
Obviously, it's crucial we stick to our writing. We have to remain firmly tethered to our goals and keep deadlines circled on our calendar. But if we find ourselves rooted in front of our keyboard and don't move—and do something different occasionally—we might find ourselves getting stagnant.
And stagnant things stink....
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Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer, a 3rd grade teacher, and a member of the infamous writing group, the WWWP's. She is keeping her fingers crossed about her 9th Chicken Soup for the Soul story, and rescues dogs for Love a Golden. You can find more of her writing at http://siouxspage.blogspot.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!