A Writer’s Life: Permission to Take a Break

Guilt is the bane of the writer’s life. Part of this comes from the Writer’s First Commandment – to succeed, thou must write x words every day – and part from the ever present feeling that, financially, you’re not pulling your weight. Most writers, if you add up the hours we spend working, earn a lot less than minimum wage.

So you feel compelled to sit at the keyboard every day – weekends, bank holidays and days when you’re ill – because, if you don’t, you can’t call yourself a real writer. All the advice pages agree. The First Commandment doesn’t say write x words every weekday or x words per week. It clearly states every day. There’s even a codicil that gives you permission to write crap. So you can’t bunk off on your bad days. You have to tough it out and keep on typing – even when you know every word you write is going to be edited out the next day.

Well, here’s a new codicil – permission to take a break. You don’t have to write every day. Take time off to recharge your creative batteries, or immerse yourself in a crowd – listen to conversations, observe, think of all the different ways you can to describe the people around you. Read a book, surf the web, research some cool idea that piqued your interest years ago but you never got round to taking any further.

Putting words on paper is only part of the writing process, don’t make it your master.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novel – Resonance (Baen) – can be downloaded for free here. More information about his other work can be found on his  BVC bookshelf .

Recently released from Book View Press: International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a  glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth. Forget  Bruce Willis and his team of miners. Send for the kitties!

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A Writer’s Life: Permission to Take a Break — 5 Comments

  1. Agreed 100%. I take my days off mid week when my husband has his days off. We take day trips, enjoy the scenery, sample new restaurants and basked in the undivided attention of a loving spouse.

    Sometimes, when I start throwing things or crying because I have been working too hard without a break and now the words won’t come, he surgically removes me from the computer and kidnaps me away from the house. Works every time. By the time we get home I’ve figured out what is wrong with the book and the block is gone.

  2. I totally agree. How can you write about people if you never interact with them? 🙂 Those times of refreshing are definitely important for balance.

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  4. Absolutely. To use a simile that’s in the news a lot now writing is like volcanic activity. The words on screen or paper are just what you see coming out the top.