Why writers need to take breaks

It’s been a week since I finished the final re-write of my forthcoming novel ‘The Art of Survival’ (due out this November). I have to do a thorough re-read before handing it onto the copyeditor in July, but I know I need to leave a space before I attempt that. If I re-read too quickly, I won’t see what’s actually there, only what I think I’ve put down.

I have, therefore, an enforced break from my novel writing. However, it got me thinking about the breaks we writers need to take in our writing. I’ve written about the writing process in my book ‘Pathways through writing blocks in the academic environment’ (Sense Publishers: http://goo.gl/R9PSIe). Here I suggest every writer has a rhythm and not understanding our own personal pace can lead to feeling blocked.

We have a rhythm within our writing day. Our body and mind need us to take regular breaks. We might work better in the morning or later on in the day. We also need to recognise when it’s necessary to step back from our writing for a more substantial length of time. The writing itself could benefit from being stowed in a drawer until we can regard it more dispassionately. But we, as writers, also require a pause to recuperate.

When we are caught up in our passion, when we’re doing what we’ve always wanted to do, it’s hard to recognise sometimes that we, and our work, would benefit from an easing off. In ‘Pathways’, I called it the ‘fertile void’ borrowing a term from Gestalt psychotherapy. I liked author Alan Garner’s description of feeling like a reservoir run-dry and waiting until he’s become filled up again.

When I’m in this place, I like to take the advice of Julia Cameron (‘The Artist’s Way’) and nourish my creativity and imagination by opening myself up to other artistic milieu. Withfertile void 001 the local Open Studios on recently, I was lucky enough to visit those of http://www.sueslack.co.uk/ and http://ruthmiemczyk.artweb.com/ I was particularly struck by Ruth’s use of words and collage in her paintings, something I enjoy exploring (in my own very small ways) for myself.

All this is leading up to explaining, I am taking a break for one week from this blog, while I revel in the fertile void.


2 thoughts on “Why writers need to take breaks

  1. Jill Barry

    Great comments, Kate and I couldn’t agree more. Even walking round a photographic exhibition can charge the batteries. I love extravagant window displays too. Happy writing!


    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Thank you. Yes any creative stimulus is good, as is moving the body, we writers can become to sedentary and I think this literally traps the words in our bodies. Good writing to you too.



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