Monday 24 April 2023

Balancing Writing & Time Off - The Creative Process


I have always been someone who very heavily believes that everyone needs time off from time to time. I used to have a goal for having at least one day off completely each month, I still have that goal, but I've upped it to two days. When you're in a creative field, it's especially important that you have that time off because your work, your creativity is going to need to be refilled at some point. It's going to need you to have some time when you're not always writing and creating.

The problem, for a lot of writers, is that they find it hard to keep that balance between taking the needed time off, and still managing to write to a level that they themselves are happy with. I know that comparison plays a part, like if someone else you know and admire is able to manage xyz in a month, then you should be aspiring to do the same. I'll be blunt and honest and say that no, that's not the case and comparison is a game you don't want to get into.

For example, as a disabled indie author with several chronic conditions, the time I can spend working on any given day is limited. For someone who's healthy, who doesn't have those constraints, they may manage more or less than me. The point is that no one shares the same twenty-four hours as you do. You might have kids, they might have a job, you might be a full time author, they might have several assistants. No one in this world has the exact same constraints on their time as you do. It might be similar, but it's not exactly the same.

So how do you find that balance? I mean, as someone who is a full time author (though for full transparency, it doesn't pay me full time) I should have all the time to write, and write some more, but it doesn't work out like that. There does need to be that balance between writing and time off, because no matter who you are, no matter what your twenty-four hours looks like, you will need time off. You are human, no one can be on the go all the time and not pay some kind of price for it.

I know this might sound like a given. After all, everyone tells you to be strict and have some kind of plan and routine in place so that you can optimise your writing time. While that's true, I also think you need to be strict with your time off as well. If you know that you're wanting to take the next day off writing, don't allow anything to pull you back in. While it might not always be possible to do this, the majority of the time it should be a rule you follow to the letter. No one wants you to burn out, and if you want to keep doing this writing life, then you need to be able to balance the stress of one with the relax of the other.

I know this is something that I fall back on often, and I also know that it's not always possible. My mind works in a way where knowing when I'm supposed to be doing things calms my anxiety and puts me in the right head space to be able to do the thing. Before I used a paper planner, I would use sticky notes on my computer so that I could know ahead of time when I was doing what. I also use my ipad calender so that I can pull it up and know that I will need to, say, record a video on this day, and do revisions on that day, and go from there. I also know what days I'm planning to take off completely. It means that I'm able to know what needs to be done when and it's just something that soothes me. Now for some people making any kind of plan like that would do the opposite so if that's you, then obviously don't do this, but make sure that you don't just put off the days off until you burnout.

Again, I'm basing this on my own circumstances and that might not apply to every writer. I find that if I try and do two chapters in one day, I need more time to relax afterwards. So I make sure that it's not something I do very often. Usually it's only when starting new projects and then I have months when I don't have to worry about them. If you know that you find it hard when you do 5K in a day, then don't set yourself up to do that every single day. Balance out what needs to be done, work out when you'll have more time to do more, and dish out the things you need to do, whether that's writing or revising or admin stuff, and spread it evenly over the month or week. This allows you to make sure you're never doing too much.

So there we go, those are my three big tips when it comes to balancing this writing life with time off. I know it can seem daunting when you're also juggling other things. I know how easy it can be to beat yourself up for not managing this or that goal, but it's so very important that you look after you as well. Your writing will take as long as it takes, and that's okay. Yes it's something I say a lot, but it's also true. There is only one you, and only you can tell your story. Take care of you.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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