Monday, April 01, 2013

It's Okay to Take a Break From Writing (or Blogging)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Don't feel guilty if you need to take some time off from writing. It's actually a lot healthier if you do.

It's been pretty hectic at the Hardy household the last few months. Good hectic, but there's been a lot on my plate and I've had to let a few things slide to keep from losing my mind. This morning I realized something.

This time last year, I would have been killing myself to keep up.

Like many others, I've been trying hard to balance writing, blogging, and living. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to work less, and I'm actually doing it (mostly). I'm fairly shocked that I've been able to let Twitter go for a few weeks, run archive posts, and even skip one or two Saturday diagnostic posts. Don't get me wrong, it's been hard, and I feel guilty about it, but I had to do it.

I see a lot of writers push themselves just as hard, if not harder. They also feel guilty if they're not blogging every day, not tweeting, not hitting 10K words a day, not making whatever goal they feel they should be making. It's a ton of stress.

Stop stressing yourself out.

It's okay to take breaks. It's okay to write at your own pace if you're not on a deadline. In fact, it's good to know your own pace so you can meet those deadlines when you need to and make sure you have enough time to get things done.

It's also okay to cut back when you need to. It's hard, I know, but burning yourself out isn't going to get you where you want to be. If you're killing yourself to maintain a certain pace or productivity level, you won't last long. Even worse, your work will suffer.

And you know what? Every time I've had to cut back or take a break on the blog, everyone has been supportive and understanding, so your readers aren't going to abandon you because you needed a few weeks off. Let them know, then do what you gotta do.

It seems a little wacky to do a blog post saying it's okay to take a break, but I think we need to be reminded of that from time to time. I know I do. There's so much pressure to do out there, that it's way too easy to forget that doesn't mean do it all.

Plus, here's a little secret...everyone else is so busy trying to do it all, that most of them won't even notice if you're slacking a bit. Some might even appreciate the break so they can get caught up, too.

I've got my fingers crossed to get caught up this week, but I'm frequently overly optimistic about what I can do in five days, so we'll see.

What kind of pressures are you under? When was the last time you took a break? (And do you need one now?)


  1. Today is my break! I took the day off from work and am spending it fulfilling a wish-list full of writing activities. The A2Z Blog Challenge started today, I need to transfer from Google Reader which will be shutting down in July, so many others. (Plus a few household stuff mixed in!)

    Sometimes we realize it's only us putting pressure on ourselves and we need to cut some slack.

  2. Cindy, good for you! I really like the idea of taking day for wish-list things. So smart! I think that could be applied to any number of tasks as well. A day for fun, a day for little things that always get shoved aside, etc.

  3. I've been on break through a lot of this college semester - an it may happen next semester, too! I finally gave in and realized that I couldn't blog regularly AND keep up with my assignments. I'd like to say I'll stockpile a bunch between finals and the start of summer semester, but . . .

    Nobody's going to die if I don't blog. It will still be there when I get back. And someday I'll have enough good posts to run something from the archive! In the meantime, you may see another blog post from me in, oh, May-ish. :)

  4. A few weeks ago I had the sudden need to break from being an active social media hound. I'm thankful for the network I've built the last couple years, but I suddenly realized I don't have to check in three times a day to keep my online friends and contacts.They're just as happy to chat/share ideas when I come back. You're right, you know, about your blog posts. You have so many helpful posts. Whenever I have a question, I can always find a good Janice answer here. It's a very complete site. Add to it as you see fit.

  5. Thanks for the great advice! I had to take a four month break when I found out I was pregnant. I didn't like it, but I think it brought more strength to my writing when I sat down to write again. Love your site!

  6. Definitely good advice, I'm balancing writing, blogging, parenting/homeschooling, and working from home. Some days it seems impossible, and I always seem to be taking a break from something so I can catch up with the others. It ebs and flows though, and usually works out somehow.

  7. I've had to force myself to take a day off every week (usually a Saturday or Sunday), although I don't normally stick to it. I feel under a ton of pressure to get all my projects done (even though I'm not writing on a deadline). I put a ton of pressure on myself and, if I'm not careful, I'll run myself until I'm physically ill. Some of that is just how I am--plus I'm unemployed (well, underemployed) so what else would I be doing? haha

  8. The month of March was a complete blur for me. I barely did any blog posts on my Marti Ink site due to deadlines for other work. I have told the followers that I have that my deadlines will always come first. After those deadlines were met I didn't want to look at a computer for a while.

    I just did my first blog post in what felt like forever yesterday. I'm looking forward to working in some time to actually getting back to writing my... what is that thing called again? Oh! my BOOK!

  9. Thanks for the permission to slow down. It's true that we need to sometimes and understanding friends understand this too.

    I am trying to find the right balance in the blogging/writing and not getting too stressed about self-imposed deadlines on the writing. Sometime next year I'll have a lot more time to devote to it when I get laid off from my job and am job searching.

  10. Taking a break is wise. I admit I fight against the need to do so, like a child who fights against bedtime. But my batteries need recharging.

  11. I take a blog break now and then when I'm falling behind in my writing or if I'm going to be out of town/offline. But I'm always worried I'll miss something. Or worse, that no one will miss me.

  12. I'm actually on a sort of break myself at the time. I had planned to blog 3 times a week this year, do the A to Z challenge (which I would have loved to), finish my revision by the end of April, save the world at least twice and fly to Saturn. But (un)fortunately life had a different opinion about my schedule. So I'm blogging once a week, no A to Z, and my revision has slowed down (not stopped). But it's okay. I'm avoiding feeling guilty because I know---just as you said---that forcing things won't help me, and burning the midnight oil when it's not necessary won't do me any good either. I'm taking it easy, taking the necessary time to deal with life while keeping my eyes on the ball. Just not juggling it all the time. :)

    Thanks a lot for the post. It's important to know that we're not alone in feeling overwhelmed at times, or in taking a break to shift out priorities for a while. Wish you a relaxing, refreshing time.

  13. This is so important. janice...thanks for giving us room to rest!


  14. This post deserves a hug! I'm hanging on until my big break that'll come when I wrap up with grad school in a month. :)

  15. I'm actually putting myself into a push right now by doing the A-to-Z challenge as well as ROW80, but I needed to get back in after a long blog hiatus. But if I hadn't been rather rested I don't think I'd be up for this. I wasn't last year.

    Breaks can really help us get up and go again.

  16. It's amazing how stressful that "I gotta keep up!" mindset can be. But you're right, people are awesome and understand we're all human. We all need a break now and then. Thanks for the reminder=)

  17. Jennifer, it will be, and school is a much bigger priority :)

    Cat, thanks! Social media does suck you in. It's amazing how much time gets lost there. I've found scheduling short amounts of time a few days a week lets me keep up without losing most of a day to it.

    Angie, thanks! Breaks can be helpful. They let get gain some perspective.

    Rinelle, I'm tired just reading that list, hehe. Eb and flow is a good way to look at it. Different days, different priorities.

    Andrew, hehe. I hear you though. I wanted to take weekends off, but I still find myself working some on Sat mornings. I hope you at least have a firm end time on your days :) No work past Xpm.

    Marti, there must have been something in March's water, since mine was like that too. Good for you for being able to step away and get what you had to get done. Hope you get some writing time soon :)

    Natalie, it's the self-imposed deadlines that seem to be the bad ones. It's so easy to heap that pressure on ourselves when we don't have to. I think that's the first time I've even seen someone talk about getting laid off and made it sound positive!

    Lin, they really do. Even if it's just a day a week.

    LD, oh, I worry about that, too :) Did anyone notice I was gone?

    Veronica, lol. Love your to-do list. You are definitely not alone. That's why I do these posts actually. We all go through the same things as writers, and it's nice to know that's normal, even when "normal" currently stinks :)

    Jarm, most welcome!

    Nicole, -hug- Wow, grad school is much more important :) You have enough to do already. Smart not to try to do it all.

    Jaleh, that's a good reason for a push, though. Sometimes you need that kick to get started again. Good luck with the challenge!

    Jennifer, my pleasure. I think with so much of our lives online these days, it makes it even worse.

  18. Needed this. So much. Been killing myself trying to finish edits on my novel in time to have it ready for a conference in May. But last night, instead of writing, I took the time to call a friend I hadn't spoken with in a long time. And reading this post makes me even more glad I did. Thank you, so much.

  19. Writer Librarian, you're most welcome :) I hope the break did you good.

  20. Janice! This was absolutely the perfect post for me to read today. I've just decided I need a break from writing. It's frustrating and I wish I could keep up with everything in my life and still have the time and creative energy to write, but I can't. I'm giving myself a break until next fall when my baby goes to preschool. I need to take a little time to read and remember why I want to do this.

    I hope you had a great break (and continue to have a great break if you're still taking some time). It's so important to get a recharge every now and then.

  21. Thanks Natalie! That sounds like a fantastic idea, and the perfect time to do it :) You'll have so much more free time while the little one is in school. I don't know you parents managed it all as it is :)