If you’re anything like me, it’s probably hard for you to step away from your manuscript-in-progress. Hammering away at the problems in our books — from flat character arcs to plot holes to uneven pacing — is what we writers do. We can’t quit! We need to press on! Right?
As writers, we need to give ourselves permission to step away from the creative process for a while. We need to relax and rejuvenate, and let our minds rest.
After all, just because you’re not actively working on a story doesn’t mean it’s not percolating away in your subconscious.
Think you need a break, but you still want to feel like you’re doing something to further your writing? Here are three activities to consider:
1.) Read. Pick up a book and dive into someone else’s story for a bit. It might give you inspiration for your own tale. It will hopefully be a model of good writing. Let someone else’s hard work get your own creative juices flowing again.
2.) Start writing something else entirely. No one’s saying you have to stop writing. Just stop writing the same thing. Start something else — a short story, a poem, or even a journal. Anything! But give your brain a break from the current manuscript.
3.) Watch TV. Oh my god, did I just say that? Look, it’s the golden age of television and there are shows out there that are exceptionally well-written. Mad Men, anyone? The Venture Brothers. The Wire. The first season of Veronica Mars. Battlestar Galactica. These are good, solid stories with fully fleshed-out characters and thoughtful plot arcs. Watch them, and learn. (If you have other shows you love and have inspired your writing, please leave them in the comments!)
We writers are a hard-working bunch of folk. But it’s okay to take a break. If you step back for a bit, you’ll see problems in your book anew and be able to solve them more effectively. And that’s a good thing indeed.