Taking a Break

Last weekend, I left home for a night to head south to Eugene, home of my alma mater, the University of Oregon (Go, Ducks!).Waterslide-watershoot-oregon-2580145-l

This may shock you–it shocked me–but I didn't even turn on my computer the entire time I was gone.   And I had a blast.   We ate at Rennie's and the Glenwood, two old favorites, stayed at the New Oregon motel, shopped at the U of O bookstore and the wonderful local yarn shop, walked along both sides of the Willamette river, and went to a surprise birthday party at fabulous house.  All in 24 hours.

I came home refreshed and with a slightly different outlook on life, which is what getting away will do for you.  Yet I don't do this often enough.  Yes, I travel a lot, mostly to Nashville and LA, but that is always at least partially for work.  Heading out for a night or two nights just for fun is an entirely different animal, and one I like. 

So, this may be as shocking as not turning on my computer for 24 hours, but now I'm going to advocate the benefits of taking a break from your writing.  And by taking a break, I mean taking a break break, like a mini get-away, or an afternoon off to wander by the lake.  Maybe you could think of it as an extended Artist's Date, the activity Julia Cameron urges everyone to partake in. 

Whether you decide to go for a big break or a small break, some time off can have a salutary effect on your brain, and since writing comes from the brain, by extension a break can have a great impact on your work.  So, herewith, my list of Reasons Why You Should Take a Break:

Because it clears your mind.  And, I don't know about you, but mine usually needs clearing, bad.  I get into this one-with-the-computer mentality wherein I sit and work for hours.  As part of my new program to take breaks more often, I'm also going to take mini-breaks, and get up from my desk every half hour.

Because it opens new vistas.  Just seeing different stuff is good for the brain.  And it's great for writing, because the writing muscle strengthens with new input.

Because it reminds you of what is important.  Like spending time with family and friends and gazing at the river.  Having a beer with lunch and finding fountain pens–a whole amazing, lovely set of them–at the bookstore.   Looking for nutrias in the Millrace and hanging out in the motel room just because it is fun to be there.

Because it refills the well.  Come back to writing after taking a break and suddenly the words fly across the page.  Why?  Because you've refilled the well, which easily gets depleted if all you do is pull from it.  Once in a while, you need to put stuff back in.

Because sometimes we just need to be, not always do.  Enough said.

Because it energizes you and makes you eager to get back to your life.  The best thing about leaving is coming home, right?  And even better to come home full of ideas and energy.  And with fountain pens.

What are your favorite ways to take breaks from writing?

***Photo by d70focus, courtesy of Flickr, via Everystockphoto, my go-to place for pix.

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8 Comments on "Taking a Break"

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Derek
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Derek
Yes, I have recently re-discovered the profundity of the mundane. I say “rediscovered” because before computers came into my life, I was teaching this sort of stuff to my clients constantly, but not practising what I preached! The importance of doing something entirely different, even if at first you can feel a little like a fish out of water, is of great value. Back in the 80s, my days were occupied with consulting clients and my evenings were occupied with self-development groups. Everything I did was focused on this. Then one day, I don’t know what made me do it,… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

I think we just get so bound up in thoughts about how important our work is and how we must stick to it that it is hard for us to take a break. I love your story about renovating the cottage and it makes perfect sense that you were able to give your mind a break on the weekends!

RennyBA's Terella
Guest

Thanks for the tips and for taking away my bad feeling when taking a break – and what I do:
Going out in the woods or mountains and listen to the nature!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Glad to be of service in allaying your guilt, and thanks for bringing up getting out into nature–it is such a great way to take a break!

Melissa Donovan
Guest

This post is packed with wisdom 🙂 I always feel refreshed when I spend a day off the computer or out mingling with friends and family. All of us who write and work online can benefit immensely from regular breaks.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thanks, Melissa. I have to force myself to get away from the computer, and then when I do, I’m really glad. The effort is worth it!

Dani H
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Dani H
I LOVE this post. Have you been to Judy Clement Wall’s “Zebra Sounds”? Her post last Monday, Feb. 1st, was about starting a new project that requires her to go outside and does not involve writing (except to post it each week.) I read your post on “Not Having the Time to Paint” a few minutes ago. I find it fascinating that so many creative people do branch out into more than one avenue to express themselves. IMHO, it doesn’t matter what other people think of the finished product as much as firing up your creative juices, does it? I… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thanks, Dani, glad you liked it.

I am an avid reader of Zebra Sounds but I missed that post of Judy’s! I’ll have to go back and find it.

I agree–the more we create, the more we experience. Good way to put it. I used to think that if I took time away from writing to paint or knit or whatever, it was a detriment to my work. But the opposite is true–other creative projects feed my work. I really need to remember that this weekend and go open those paints!

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