The Value of a Day Off from Writing

Sometimes I think to myself ‘holy crud, I’m sat here writing when the sun is shining and the day is glorious and I should be outside enjoying my life rather than wearing out my fingertips against this keyboard’ and I pick myself up (no, not literally) and I set myself outside and tell myself not to come back for a good long while!

I think that it’s good to take a break every now and again, but I’m wondering if it’s okay to do that, providing I do things to keep the razor sharp whilst I’m out and about – you know, like carry a notebook and pen, or listen to the chatter of strangers, or chase down the street with arms outstretched like an aeroplane whilst making a eeeeeerrrrrrrrr type noise so that I have new experiences to … you know.

Hold on – I am going somewhere with all this. πŸ™‚

My question is (and this has been on my mind for a while): is it better as a writer that I get out more in order to get new ideas and refresh my palette or is it better for me to clear my desk, room, house, life so that I have no distractions and can thus concentrate on my writing? In other words – blinds and head down, or smash the window and climb out – which is the most productive approach in terms of enabling my creative writing?

And just to be clear – I don’t want your opinion if that’s all you have available – I want the fruits of your experience as dedicated writers. I only want facts, references and specific expertise in this area. Papers out there that have written up experiments that have lab-tested writers in both these circumstances? Tell me about them. Books that advocate one approach or the other that you have read and have implemented and can report on with scientific accuracy? Give me the low-down. Writerly lives honed to a fine point on one approach or the other? Share with me your learning!

I thank you in advance.

boy arms outstetched plane



6 thoughts on “The Value of a Day Off from Writing

  1. I find it absolutely vital to have time off – proper time off – to give your subconscious time to mull things over. If my writing project feels stuck, or in a slump, I walk. Then, I sit in the sun, or meet with friends – anything except sitting at a desk. The desk, by the way, has to be organised and in a space clear of clutter – again, to free the mind and let the ideas flow. I’m working on a novel and a linked academic thesis, part-time, so there are pressures of deadlines etc, but still I consider all these things a valuable way to use writing time: thinking, musing, walking, talking about the writing process, reading about the writing process and reading about anything except the writing process. Then, when I actually sit down to write, and if I’m lucky and I find myself in the flow zone, I write in intense bursts and the world falls away. If I’m lucky. (Editing is an entirely different creature).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your advice immensely, Ann. It suits my temperament to have time off and then to work in intense bursts. I get bored easily. And I do editing on the fly. The thought of editing a whole book … aaarrgghhhhh!!!! πŸ™‚


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