The Importance Of Taking A Writing Break

This blog post is the first thing I’ve actually written, aside from emails, in a week. I’m in the middle of a two week break. And despite having deadlines to meet this year, both hard and soft, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. In fact, I’m sitting on the patio of my windy side yard on a sunny day, listening to three hawks terrorize every bird on the block. If it were just a tad warmer, I would probably be at the beach with my girls, getting sun, listening to the waves and reading a battered paperback. Oh, and waiting for the guy to come by selling coconut ice.

Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading posts by other writers who seem to never stop. Once they finish one manuscript, they set it aside and dive right into the next, maybe taking the time to drink a Coke before moving on.

Not me. I need time off. As much as writing has been both my life’s dream and a way to get away from my daily problems, I have to give my brain a rest every now and then. The break I’m on right now is already paying dividends. As I wait for my first readers to deliver their feedback on the book I gave them last week, I’ve done a lot of reading. (I’m going through some of Stephen King’s suggested reading list from his book, On Writing.  Just this morning I finished Anne Tyler’s A Patchwork Planet –  a book I would have never read if I hadn’t plucked it from his list. Thanks SK!). I’ve spent more time with my family – three of the four of us dealing with health issues. Netflix has gotten a workout. My wife and I anxiously awaited the latest B movie presented by Svengoolie on Saturday night and werent’ disappointed. I love creature features, even the awful ones. I’ve caught up on correspondence and even worked with my graphics main man to create some cool stuff like banners, bookmarks and my newsletter logo.

I decided two days ago to completely revamp a short story I wrote, expanding on it and publishing it on October 1st, just in time for Halloween. I’m also doing some research on the next book I start writing over the summer, as well as one I plan to write in the fall. While all this is going on, my subconscious is gearing up for the last round of edits on my next cryptid book. So even if it looks like I’m dozing in my chair, there’s actual work going on, I promise.

With time away from my laptop comes insights I would have missed if I hadn’t taken the time to just walk away for a spell. The last thing I want is for writing to feel like a job. I already have one of them. I don’t want two.

Learning meditation years ago has helped me immeasurably. When you calm your mind, the thoughts that have been bouncing around become much clearer. Even if I don’t meditate, I’ve learned the value of silence.

So if you’re feeling stuck or tired or in need of fresh ideas, just stop, kick back and relax. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can only make your writing stronger. Brains, like batteries, need recharging every now and then. And boy, mine was running awfully low.

Now, I’m off to take my daughters out driving, armed with their permits and my father’s spirit urging me to stay calm, just as he did when he taught me.

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About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. You’ll also find him every week on the Final Guys podcast, available everywhere. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

12 responses to “The Importance Of Taking A Writing Break”

  1. Pamela Morris says :

    “The last thing I want is for writing to feel like a job.” – Exactly! Great post, Hunter! I’m taking a break as well. I finished the first round of edits on my first novel length ghost story a week ago. It’s in what I like to call the Red Pen Stage, printed and just screaming with red gashes, X’s, scribbles, and the like. I’ve not so much as looked at the thing since. My brain needs to rest before I dive back in. Luckily, none of the other people in my head are elbowing me in the ribs to tell their tales. One is speaking a bit louder than the others, but she’s a patient sort of woman and I appreciate that. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Evil Eternity” to my doorstep, too! Keep up the good work!

    • Hunter Shea says :

      Ah yes, setting a manuscript aside is like allowing dough to rise. Thanks Pamela! And I hope you enjoy the book. That’s a very different one for me. It was initially meant to be a graphic novel.

  2. hookofabook says :

    And you worked with me in getting your online publicity tours brainstormed and started as well. Thanks for allowing me to assist you. 🙂 We all need a break. We’ve got just one life to live.

    Erin
    Hook of a Book Media

    • Hunter Shea says :

      How could I forget that! Yes, that was the biggest and best thing I’ve done – writing related – during my break. Can’t wait to kick those suckers off!

      • hookofabook says :

        I missed this till now. 🙂 Yes, it’s always like a rock star party. Too bad we can’t really kick it off with beers and hot pretzels, but still…whoo hoo!! 😀

  3. Renae Rude - The Paranormalist says :

    This is funny timing for me. I’ve only just recently REALLY started to emulate your habit of writing 1,000 words a day.

    I’m nowhere near needing a break, but I can see the wisdom here. I’ll file it away for after I’m done with the first couple of books 🙂

    Enjoy your downtime, Hunter, you have so much more than earned it.

  4. the happy writer says :

    Our society, and publishing in particular, puts supreme value on “up time.” Just being in the moment isn’t enough, oh no! We must produce. We must be overbooked, overworked – and proud of it. The clamor to GoGoGo is a soul-deafening roar.

    The cult of busy-ness is killing us in ways we can’t see, but we feel it. At first, anyways. Then comes numb resignation, bringing with it one more thing we MUST do.

    I am glad you are taking a rest. It is as necessary to the writing as the writing itself.
    Enjoy your second week of recharging!

    -aniko

    • Hunter Shea says :

      So true. Strange how we’ve been made to feel guilty if we’re not running around like chickens with our heads cut off. This is exactly why so many people feel stressed, are physically ill and on anti anxiety meds.

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