Oftentimes, you hear the writing advice, “Treat it like a business.” When authors say that, most of the time what they mean is you have to write even when you don’t feel like it. Which is true. As E.B. White once put it, “a writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
But sometimes, people go a little bit overboard. They interpret it as, “Thou must write every day to be a real writer!” and take it to extremes.
Sometimes, Even Dedicated Writers Need a Break
I’ve just returned from a six-week writing hiatus. Zealots of the “treat it like a business” concept might scoff. “I write even when I’m sick,” they’d say.
I’ve heard numerous successful authors say they write even when under the weather, and they can’t tell the difference between what they write while sick vs. while feeling well.
But does that mean we should never take a break? NaNoWriMo encourages people to write every day, after all.
What Can We Learn From a Day Job?
At my day job, when I’m sick, I may work from home. But when I’m really sick, I’ll take a few days off. Sometimes, at my day job, I work a solid eight hours. But other times, I need several breaks throughout the day to keep the wheels turning.
Sometimes, you need to take a vacation. Sometimes, you need to take a personal day off work. I know, some of us Americans think that it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and that the only way to get ahead is to never take a break. But doing so ruins your health.
The same thing applies to this “treat [writing] like a business” idea. Sometimes, you need a sick day. Sometimes, you need a personal day. Sometimes, you even need a vacation.
In my case, I needed six weeks to plan my wedding, get married, and have a wonderful honeymoon with my new husband, +David Dorian Granruth.
So for six weeks, I didn’t write. (See my writing calendar.) But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still a writer. One might say I was gathering wool. During those six weeks, I dreamed and gathered new ideas. I thought a lot about writing, my stories, and science fictional concepts in general. Even while in a sensory deprivation chamber! (Maybe I should write a post about this experience.)
I thought it might be hard to come back, but I’ve had no trouble this week. On Tuesday, I reread the few scenes of The Ageless I’d managed to revise before the wedding took over. I was surprised by how good they were—and by how much I’d already forgotten of the new narrative!
On Wednesday, I felt the itch to write but wanted to spend Dorian’s evening off with him. Thursday I listened to some Write About Dragons lectures by Brandon Sanderson to get in the writing frame of mind before revising the fourth scene.
And today I managed two writing sessions, plus this blog post. I split them with a nice walk outside in the blustery fall weather while talking to my father on the phone. Then I was back to work, finishing revisions on Chapter 3 and writing this post.
Tomorrow I should get some revisions done on Chapter 4, which means I’m already back up to my pre-wedding quota of writing/revision four times a week.
By the time I start back with my critique group next month, the first few chapters of The Ageless should be in good enough shape to get me some real feedback at last.
I’m definitely looking forward to getting some good work done this month, though I never participate in NaNoWriMo.
Do you write every day? Have you tried NaNoWriMo before? Leave a comment below or find me as +Traci Loudin on Google+, the perfect place for fans of science fiction and fantasy to hang out.
And look what treating it like a business has wrought! My genre-bending post-apocalyptic novel is out, along with four prequel short stories. Have a look!
Third-Party Related Articles
Articles not linked in the blog post above.
- You Can Do It! Success Stories Of People That Have Turned Their #NaNoWriMo Books Into Bestsellers on Tor.com
- It’s That Time of Year Again: NaNoWriMo’ing on Geek Force Network
- Writing Rules: 10 Experts Take On The Writers’s Rulebook on Writer’s Digest
- Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips For Writing Well on copyblogger
- William Faulkner On Writing, The Purpose Of Art, Etc. on Brain Pickings
- Heinlein’s Rules on Robert J. Sawyer’s blog
- The Famous Writing Advice That Could Seriously Mess Up Your Game on io9