I haven’t written for a week. I haven’t read anyone else’s writing (other than published books.) I haven’t edited or even really thought about plots or storylines or characters.
It’s been glorious.
Honestly, that’s not something I thought I would say. Ever. Over the past several months, I have been in beast mode, completing three novels since November. So many more stories pop into my head every week, and I have years’ worth of ideas. When I wasn’t writing, I would want to be writing. Characters would bang at the doors of my brain, begging me to let them out.
And then…and then. I finished my fifth novel last weekend, took a day, and then opened up a previous novel, Above Eden, to read through, since my next project is the sequel. And I just didn’t wanna. I love Eden. I love the story. I’m excited to see what happens next in her world. But I had no motivation to do anything about it. The idea made me exhausted, and I found myself doing more than the usual amount of procrastinating to avoid it.
Meanwhile, in the real world, at my day job, I was feeling tired and useless. Not as entertained as I usually am talking to 6-9 elementary age kids a day. I didn’t want to make phone calls or write letters, and other paperwork? Forget about it. I did it, of course, but it was with the enthusiasm equal to that of when I go to the dentist. I was doing it because I had to, but there was no feeling behind it. And I mean NO FEELING.
And that is not a good way to be when writing. So I decided that I would the week off from anything writing. I even backed off on social media, becoming more a lurker than a participant, and then not even checking much for several days. I kept going to work, because even when you work in the mental health field, you’re not allowed to take days off because your mental health is out of whack. And then my body decided to get ‘n sync (it’s tearin’ up my heart!) with my body and gave me a migraine to completely shut out the rest of the world, including work. In my moments of relief over the two day squeezing of my brain, I binge-watched Veronica Mars. Otherwise I napped.
Finally. FINALLY. I woke up on Friday feeling clearer than I had in weeks, really. I hadn’t noticed how fuzzy everything had gotten. How everything sort of lost its color. I barely remember the two days of the mental break/migraine. It was like I just checked out completely.
And now I’m back. Another story idea came to me in the form of a GREAT first line from my 13 year old mini-me. I was out of the house almost all weekend, being social and stuff. Life is brighter and happier again.
I’m ready to write again. I needed that break. I think sometimes we forget that we can’t just keep going and going and going at high speed and expect to keep it up. Eventually it’s going to catch up. Hopefully I’ll remember this and schedule in breaks before I get to my breaking point. This summer is already booked with tons of fun stuff, and it needs to be as bright and colorful as it can be.
My new goal is to finish this next book by the end of August. If I get it done before then, great. But I’m not pushing myself. There’s no reason at this point, and it’s just not good for me. And really, that’s only three and a half months.
How can you tell when you need a break? How do you recharge?