Taking a Break Without Breaking Momentum

sea the pauseAll work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It can make writers collapse in a gibbering heap in the corner, which might also be dull.

Yesterday I was telling you to keep your momentum. Today I’m telling you to take a break. Coping with conflict is part of the writer’s life. Here’s my perspective on how to balance these opposing needs.

Pausing to rest your brain at the end of a project is risky. Beginnings are hard. Don’t make them harder. Use the momentum from the hurrah of finishing to get you going on the next project. (You always have a next project in mind, don’t you?)

During a project, the time to take a break is when everything is going well. That’s going to take some explaining.

Compare two feelings you’ve had yourself:

  1. Waking up for work on the Monday morning after a vacation
  2. Waking up some Saturday when you have special plans with someone you love

How about these?

  1. Eating a plate of raw broccoli and carrots
  2. Eating a bar of dark chocolate

Sure, you’ll do #1 whenever you have to.

You’ll do #2 whenever, however, wherever you get to.

When you are dead certain what comes next in your book, eager to work on it, it becomes item 2 on those lists. It’s a chocolate vacation.

Make proper notes for your return. That delightful turn of phrase, that snippet of dialog, the hint of foreshadowing. Don’t depend on memory. Catalog them for reference when work resumes.

Except, it won’t be work.

You’ll be going on a chocolate vacation.

What about pausing when the writing gets hard? Ah; this is a place for nice judgment and some brain science.

And that’s what we’ll talk about tomorrow.

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