I’m the kind of person that likes to go go go. When writing, I prefer to power straight through projects rather than do it little by little. For the most part, this works out for me. I write a little each day, force myself to at least get through a good chunk of setting or dialouge on days that I just have no desire to write, and edit in any downtime. The rest of my time is then divided up into day-job work, sleeping when necessary, a scheduled amount of social time, then plenty of reading and promoting my current works. I like to be busy. I take pride in being busy.
Even then, it’s good for me to take little breaks now and again. For me, a break period never goes beyond a month if I really need a breather. More often it tends to be a period of about two to three weeks. With the exception of jotting down a couple notes so I don’t forget about crucial brain-babies, I refuse to pick up a pen for creative writing. I put my manuscript notebooks up on a high shelf so I don’t even look at them. I stall on printing out the manuscript that needs editing. The only thing I have access to are my poetry book and my notes- both of which I will not open without a really good reason.
Since I’m the kind of person who needs to force herself to go on breaks, I still have to be productive somehow. I focus more on completing small, fun things. This can be powering through my book list and taking out more books from the library. This can be making a commitment to seeing one old friend a week, or having more get-togethers or girl’s nights for a couple weeks. At the moment, my break has taken the form of busting through all three Mass Effect games (happened to get a deal at GameStop where I got all three for fifteen bucks, whoo hoo, currently halfway through the second). I re-route my energy into these new goals so that I am capable of taking a break without neglecting my own mental health. Might not sound like the most common way to go about keeping myself at my mental peak, but I know how my own mind works. It needs to be constantly spinning or it begins to panic. When I take a break, I specifically do things that let my mind spin- but instead of having it spin on full speed, the way it does when I am actively creating something, I let it spin against itself, through accomplishing easier, pre-set tasks or re-acquainting myself with people I’m already familiar with. Accomplishments without too much challenge or with a much lower level of stress attached.
And yes, I think all these mental hoops are worth jumping through. No matter how you get to them, breaks are beneficial. Even if the point of the break isn’t being restful or really even slowing down the pace of general productivity. When I take breaks, I take a huge step back from my current projects. I don’t let myself think about the projects I want to be working on (sometimes can’t be helped, but at least I try). I think about other things. I consume the works of others. I pick up on points of views that the people I haven’t seen in awhile have picked up in their own life journeys. I allow myself to enjoy the little, usually even pointless, achievements and train myself to be content with all those little things. This helps me to recenter my own perspective, as well as recharging my sense of purpose and happiness with my choice of career.
So even for the super productive, going-all-the-time people like me, breaks are important. Whether it comes naturally or you have to schedule them, whether it entails lounging on a couch and marathoning Teen Wolf or getting out of the house and going dancing with your friends, they are crucial for your mental well-being, and thus beneficial for your dreams and aspirations. Make sure you’re taking them!
How do you like to take your breaks, readers?