Recently I finished edits for two different books and sent them off into the wilds where hopefully someone will love them as much as I do. I have numerous projects waiting my attention. My website needs updated first and foremost. I have the third book in a series plotted and waiting for the prose to flow and create a novel from my chaotic outline. I have another book half done that I had to put aside for other projects and I left my poor hero and heroine in grave danger. The decision of which project to dive into first haunted me for the first day after I sent off that last manuscript. What to do?
I decided to take a break and ponder my dilemma. I baked, cleaned and read three books from that endless pile I purchased in vain hopes of leisure moments. The raspberries I froze after picking them from my backyard this summer made delicious muffins. I moved those shelves in the pantry and snared those wild dust bunnies making homes and babies in their formerly safe den. I laughed, shivered and even grew a bit warm while reading the creative works of my talented fellow writers. I pulled out my precious Jane Austen leather bound collected works and indulged in reading again about poor Mr. Darcy. I almost picked up the cross-stitch masterpiece that sits in half-finished misery in a corner of my office, but I resisted. I stretched my daily exercise routine to an hour instead of thirty minutes.
What has this to do with being a writer? Everyone needs a break from their work so they might approach it again with eagerness and renewal of creativity. Though I didn’t sit at the keyboard during my mini vacation, my thoughts often turned to my waiting projects. Reading the clever story telling of writers more famous, more experienced and more successful than myself, I considered how I might improve my own craft. One can do lots of thinking while jogging, baking and hefting furniture. I would rather have spent my break on a distance, tropical beach, but a vacation from writing doesn’t have to be going away somewhere. I’m confident I can now go to one of my other projects and have my characters speak in voices not identical to the ones I just sent on their way. Plots have thickened while I chopped sausage for in a casserole. Tragedies have come to light while I cleaned the last of the screens. I figured out what’s around the river bend for my poor heroine. I have one more day on my break before I sit down at the keyboard and strap in for another visit to one of my fantasy worlds. This was not a time of procrastination, but rather of recharging. I’m eager, refreshed and in possession of various skeletons of ideas. I know where I’m going to start. Just as soon as I rearrange my office.
How do you take your breaks?