Monday 17 September 2018

Days Off Count & Matter - The Creative Process


I wanted to talk about this here because although I've covered mental health (found here) and talked about schedules and being organised (found here, here, and here) I've never really talked about the fact that days off matter and are an important part of the writing process. I know that as someone who is super productive it's easy for me to say that you should take days off, I know that when deadlines are looming, and it feels like you're not going to get there, there's a part of you that thinks you need to push forward and manage the crash that comes after later. And while there's a place for pushing through, you should still have planned days off. You should still be taking time to unwind and catch up on sleep, or reading, or watching that TV show you love. All of this should be part of your day off.

I also know that I'm pretty bad at taking the whole day off. Like right now, I'm writing this on a white day in my schedule, which is the colour I use for complete days off. That was poor planning on my end, but the point still stands. You're not a robot, you need down time and you need to make time for yourself. Whether you use that time to crash out and sleep in, or just to do things that aren't writing, that's completely cool and healthy. Because that's the thing I'm realising, a lot of people's worth is placed in how much they do, how much they write and how many words and chapters they get finished in any given time. And that isn't healthy.

Hell, I do it to a point when I track pages and all the like in my videos and in my writing schedule. It started as a way for me to get back into writing full time and became something where I kinda competed with myself to try and beat my last score. I do that less now, the competing I mean. I realise that I can only do what I can do, and doubling up on chapters and the like is just going to make me tired, sick and possibly mean more time off where I physically can't do anything more. And I don't want that. I don't want that for me, or for any of you reading this.

It's not a healthy outlook on life, at least not in the long-term. While there is something to be said for pushing yourself when you're up against a deadline or a wall, there's also a part where you need to realise, accept and acknowledge that maybe you need to take a break. And that's okay. That's actually what I'm gonna do with this day off when I'm done writing this blog post. I'm gonna take a break, go spend the day with family and just disconnect. It's been coming for a while and it's something I realise I need to do. Not just for my own mental health, but for my ability to write as well.

I say it like that because I've heard people talk about the creative well, and I find it to be true. You get to a point where you need to replenish what you're used, and a part of doing that is taking the time off and letting yourself relax a little bit more than usual. It doesn't have to be a long period, for me it'll be today and I'll, hopefully, be coming back to work tomorrow, but it does need to be time that you take for yourself. Now I'm not going to say you need to disconnect from social media, you get to decide how you spend your day off. I personally won't be checking in with Twitter and the like, but I will be talking with friends online and I will be doing my insta-stories because they're something that I truly do enjoy.

But I won't be worrying about scenes and chapters, word counts and numbers. I will be focused on just having the time to relax and catch up with family and all of that. Days off are important, no matter who you are. You are human and you need time to chill. That's just the way it is. Now I think I hear a book calling me, so I'll leave it here. If you have any advice about how you spend your down time, let us know in the comments!

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