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“Put it down for a while” is advice often given to writers. Tired of your story, then take a break. Done editing, then take a break. The virtuous idea is that if you’re frustrated, tired, or just did a lot of writing, a break lets you return with fresh energy and fresh eyes.
I am a believer, if a hypocritical one, in taking a break as a writer. But as food for thought, let me suggest a break does not just give you fresh eyes – it gives you new ones.
When you finish a project or a writing setting, your mind is awhirl. Letting yourself take a break lets the lessons sink into your mind. Your break is a time of change.
When you finish a project or a writing session and take a break, your mind does other things besides writing. In that time, you take new stimuli, new ideas, new inspirations. Your break is a time of taking in other things.
When you finish a project or a writing session, a break is a chance to see a project differently. Stray ideas and unstructured contemplation let you gain new viewpoints. Your break is a time to gain new insights.
The work does not change when you take a break – but you do. The person who returns to work after an hour or a day or a week off is literally someone else.
This viewpoint provides more than a way to discuss the nature of impermanence. It’s a reminder that sometimes you need to stop writing and rest to become the person that can continue your work. If you are tired, uninspired, etc., you may not just be in a bad state – you may be the wrong person for the job. A rest from writing is a chance to become the you that can go on.
So next time you’re tired of writing, frustrated, or just exhausted, just rest. The person you are has done their job; the person you will be can take over next. Give them space to arrive.