How to Spend Time NOT Writing

Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs to spend a bit of time defusing the bomb inside their stressy little hearts and relax a bit.

Doing something too often will cause you to burn out. This applies to more things than just writing (working, singing, exercising, etc.).

In my experience, there are four different types of Not-Working-Methods.

1. Change of Pace. You need something different to do. Throw knives. Cook chicken Parmesan. Restock your shelf of teas/coffees. Visit some other humans in an ancient ceremony of social interaction known as “hanging out.” Go to a restaurant. Go to your religion building of choice. Knit a hat. Go on a massive hunt for all lost socks. Be victorious. Sing along to your favorite songs. Loudly. Serenade your houseplant or pet. Drink lots of water to rehydrate from all the tea/coffee. Make a list of things to do, and do them!


Feel free to make this list out to infinity.

2. Relax. You need to do nothing for a while. And by nothing, I mean Netflix binge. Wear fuzzy socks, build a blanket fort, and light a candle (but not near the flammable blanket fort). Take a bath. Eat leftover ribs and potatoes while in the bath. Listen to Chopin and Mozart while in the bath. Read a book while in the bath. Set up your laptop so you can watch Netflix in the bath. Honestly, most things are better while in the bath.

This cat obviously doesn’t under stand the art that is the bath.

3.Read. Sometimes the best break is to hit a good book. Catch up on a series you forgot you were reading. Remind yourself that this is what you’re working toward, the almighty bounty of publication! Remind yourself that the book you’re holding has gone through several if not hundreds of iterations before falling into your hands. Most importantly: enjoy the story! That’s what writing is all about. From themes of social injustice to self identity, we all just want to enjoy the story. If it makes us think deeply and importantly about the world and what’s in it, then that’s all the better.

ALL the books!

4. Analyse literature. I know this sounds like I’m giving you homework, but if writing is your trade craft, then you want to study how it’s done. Sometimes we get so stuck in our own way of writing that we forget how to do new and exciting things. You want to read The Great Gatsby in a way that tells you how symbols were developed. How often were colors mentioned? Did the narrator’s opinion influence our perception of the narrative? What does that mean for the themes? Did the author have a favorite phrase?

We should all aspire to have this thinking face. And that ascot.

Whatever you’re working on, whether it’s a book, thesis, poetry, story, or screenplay, everyone needs a break now and again. Give your brain a break! Go exploring for a bit and you just might come back to your work with new inspiration!


3 thoughts on “How to Spend Time NOT Writing

  1. Pingback: 17 Steps to Writing and Publishing a Book | words — and other things
  2. Pingback: What to Do on a Monday. | words — and other things
  3. Pingback: Why We Read | words — and other things

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