I haven’t written a word on my novel since November 30, 2021. True, on the heels of National Novel Writing Month is the Christmas Season rush, but that wasn’t the only thing holding me back. I wasn’t injured, or sick, or depressed, or too busy. The truth is that I needed a break.
And I’m good with that.
No well is limitless, and my creativity needed a chance to recharge. Even now I’m not ready to jump back into my unfinished work.
I’m good with that too.
Over the years, I have learned how to cope with an unplanned hiatus from writing.
1. Realize It’s Okay To Step Away From The Keyboard
Most of us common writers have a full-time job and write on the side. Don’t get me wrong: we take our writing time very seriously. The downside is that we have to carve time out of our already very busy schedules to engage in our true calling. The bright side is that when we have to step back to recharge, our financial well-being isn’t in jeopardy. So, unless you have an editor and a deadline breathing down your neck, chances are you can spend some time away from writing without any real consequences.
2. Realize It Isn’t A Waste Of Time
Life is short and we “type A” personalities want to push, push, push. We have an internal clock ticking away compelling us to multitask and get as much out of each moment as possible. I have learned from experience that living each moment to the max doesn’t mean it is jam-packed with as many tasks as possible. Sometimes living my best life means I kick back and feed my soul or my face with treats. An old axiom says that a bow that is never loosened loses its strength. The same can be true for humans.
3. Realize Your “Leisure” Activity Can Enrich Your Craft
Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m a bibliophile.
I love to read. After six years of college and grad school, I’m ready to revel in books of my choosing and not be chained to a syllabus reading list. Right now, during my writing hiatus, I’ve been reading some excellent fiction. But the beauty of that is that not only does reading enrich my imagination, but it also enhances my awareness as a writer. Turns of phrases, metaphors, symbolism, and countless other literary devices are right in front of my nose to enjoy. Spending time reading is never a waste of time or effort. That goes for everyone whether you are a writer or a computer engineer. Like a spoonful of sugar, increasing my reading time right now will pay off later when I do start pounding the keys again.
4. Realize It Doesn’t Last Forever
I know some younger writers who panic when they hit a dry spell. Here’s the thing I always tell them: Don’t sweat it. Roll with it. Find another creative outlet. As I said, for me it is reading. I also enjoy quilting. Both of those areas of creativity have been severely limited for the last six years. Now I am basking in as much reading and quilting I can get away with around my job and family responsibilities. Wells go dry, but over time they fill again with fresh, clear water. I know from experience (I’ve been through this a few times in the last three decades) that this too shall pass. Before I know it, I’ll have the itch to write again. I’ll disappear into my novel and drive my family crazy by discussing my characters’ problems as if they were real people.
If you find yourself steeped in a season when you simply have no desire to write, remember that it is okay. Writers will always find a way to get back to writing. The hiatus may be your brain’s strategy of replenishing the creative well. Let it happen. Embrace it. Then dust off the keys on your laptop and get back into the work.
Photo courtesy of M. Maggs from Pixabay