A mini-vacation — sometimes in the midst of an intensive push forward on a project, you need to take a break; the trick is to give yourself a breather without losing momentum. I’ve learned that, for me, the best way to deal with the need for occasional time off is to give myself a mini-vacation.
Today, after working through some structural issues with a friend’s writing project, instead of jumping back into my revision, I decided to give myself a mental-health break. With this in mind, instead of my usual writing regiimen, I pulled out my copy of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, took a long walk, and watched the Tour de France. While I may have lost a bit of ground, I don’t feel too worried: As experience teaches us, when you’re penning a novel, you’re in a marathon, not a sprint.
Slowing down on one leg of that road won’t put much of a dent in my overall timetable. Beyond this, we can reap valuable benefits from taking a mini-vacation here and there. Specifically, a brief break can help:
Stop a brain drain: Sometimes, when you’ve been working intensively, you get “overcooked.” When this happens you just don’t have the mental energy to keep working at the same pitch. Instead of driving yourself forward until you’re in the red zone, why not take a little time to recharge and refresh your mind?
Refill your well of ideas: A relaxed mind is a creative mind. When you are constantly pushing forward at a high pitch, your creative juices can slow their flow. Giving yourself a short break can help make sure your creative pump is primed.
Lead to new insights: As many of us know, sometimes just doing something light and recreational instead of intensive and demanding gives your subconscious mind time to mull over plot issues or a tricky chapter — and come up with an ingenious solution. Sometimes, “doing nothing” can be doing exactly what you need to be doing to work through a problem.
So, the next time you’re feeling as if you’re fading or your mind is sluggish instead of snappy, give yourself a mental-health break. Sometimes that’s all you need to shift back into high gear. Just be careful to get back on track quickly and not let your break turn into a block. Write on!