On September 7, 2014, I launched this blog and declared myself a writer. I made a vow to write at least 500 words every day, a commitment I kept until last week (with the exception of this one day last January).
A week ago, I decided it was time to take a break. I was on vacation, relaxing at my sister’s house, and for the first time in over a year writing felt like a chore. I had ideas in my head, but lacked the discipline and desire to sit at the keyboard and give them life.
So, I gave myself permission to take a break. For the next seven days I did not stick to my daily writing schedule. I watched movies. I crocheted. I sat in front of my sister’s fireplace and played with her dogs. I ate junk food. I sang showtunes while working on a jigsaw puzzle. I visited with family and friends.
I wrote a grand total of 783 words in seven days. And I don’t feel guilty for not writing more. Along the way, I remembered why I loved writing, and recommitted to my daily discipline.
There are good reasons to maintain daily habits, but a hiatus now and then can also be beneficial. Here are the three lessons I learned by taking a writing vacation.
1. People are more important than writing.
I already knew this from my 2015 adventure to Australia, but this week was a good reminder. During my vacation I visited with family and friends, laughing and reminiscing. We shared stories and jokes, making new memories as we remembered past holidays. It was exactly what I needed, and I am especially grateful to my sister Caroline for letting me use her house as home base this week.
2. Exploring other creative outlets is fun and inspiring.
Writing helps me process life and my emotional reactions to daily events. But it is not the only activity I enjoy. I love to crochet. Having time this week to sit with yarn on my lap, a new project on my hook, allowed me to express a different part of my creativity. I had fun exploring color combinations and pattern designs. Working on a project in silence allowed my mind to wander. I thought of potential new blog posts, new writing opportunities and projects I hope to accomplish in 2016. Even though I wasn’t writing, I was still engaged in mental processes which will help my writing. And because I gave myself a break from writing, I did all of this without feeling guilty for pursuing one activity while ignoring another.
3. Taking a break refocuses your energy.
Sure, a daily habit is important if we want to accomplish a goal such as writing a book, composing a symphony or completing artistic work. Meeting deadlines and maintaining a routine, self-imposed or created by others, requires discipline and determination. But my stamina for this discipline was waning. Writing was becoming work, an obligation instead of a release.
When I gave myself permission to take a writing vacation, I found myself eager to write again. Writing was not a “must do” but a “want to do” activity. Rather than being a chore, writing was a creative outlet once more.
Now it is time for me to go back home, resume my daily routines, and enter the real world. I am excited to write each day, eager to work on the projects I have outlined. My writing vacation was just what I needed to be ready to write again.
If you are contemplating a daily writing routine, but need some encouragement, you might want to visit My 500 Words. This online writing community, started by Jeff Goins, is one of the reasons I have been able to maintain my habit. The members are generous, supportive and sincere. They will welcome you with open arms.