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In Praise of Taking a Break

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During May, I did the Ninja Writing Challenge. It was awesome. THE challenge was to write every single day, even if it's just 10 minutes. There are lots of people talking about doing something daily to create a habit, and I get it. I do. It worked for me for a variety of things.

But when I wrote every day in my WIP, it became a chore. I started preferring working on my short stories. I would write the mandatory 10 minutes and then stop working on the novel and start working on other things. That's the first time that ever happened to me. When I wrote my PhD thesis (it was 350 pages long), I treated it like a job: I would write while the kids were in daycare and then I would pick them up and take them home. And I wouldn't touch my thesis after hours, including weekends.

I find that taking the weekend off helps me to get unstuck when I'm stuck. It creates some space for me to see the work more clearly. Especially if we're doing something active that prevents me from pulling out my phone every 10 minutes to check out the latest Medium piece (or, more often, play Best Fiends. It's addictive, don't say I didn't warn you).

Yesterday I took a break. It was a gorgeous day, and my partner had to go on a business trip, and it was a Sunday. I took the kids to Kew Gardens (my favourite place in the whole world, except perhaps the Science Museum, or possibly the Natural History Museum). They're running a "dragon trail" that includes six dragon sculptures you have to find and a workshop in which you can design a dragon. The kids were all over it. They love those kinds of things. So we navigated through the gardens in search of the dragons. We pissed each other off. We showed each other cool stuff we saw. We found a giant puppet in the Temperate House. I only took my phone out to take pictures. We interacted and spent time together.

It was a good day, but I didn't get to write, not even 10 minutes. And that's ok because it gave me a chance to recharge. To create space. And I'm back at it today. As I write this, at 9:30 am, I already wrote over 500 words in my WIP, which was the goal I set myself. And I enjoyed the writing. I got into the story and channelled the Muse and all of it. As a bonus, because I spent the whole day with my kids yesterday, they are now content to play on their own and let me write. So I would call this a win.


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