There comes a time when we all need to take a break. You risk crashing and burning when you push too hard for too long. Race car drivers make pitstops. Even the Almighty took a day of rest. How do you know when it’s time to recharge, what steps might accomplish that, and how do you return to the race without losing your place? I will try to shed some light on those questions in this article. Welcome back, readers! I hope my insights help.
Knowing when to take a break is the most difficult challenge. When we’re on a roll, we become obsessed. It’s hard to stop when the words are flowing but consider this: Even if Danica Patrick had a three-car lead, she would have the common sense to make a pitstop when it was time to change the tires. Yes, this might set her back, but she’s in it for the win, not her current position. That is precisely how an author should think. If you go too fast, you’re either going to make mistakes or burn out.
In the case of a race car driver, you have a pit crew that will signal you when it is time to stop. In the case of an author, you’re on your own. That said, how do you know when it is time to stop? The answer to that question is subjective, but I’ll give you three scenarios of when you should know that it is time to take a break:
Of the three, this is the easiest to recognize. If you’re feeling burnt out, then it’s time to stop and recharge. If you’re like me, then you’re putting ten to twelve hours per day into your writing. That grows old fast. When you get to the point that you’re forcing yourself to do it, you can rest assured that you’ve gone too far.
Two: Losing Ground
Somewhat more elusive is the concept of losing ground. If you’re falling behind in the race, then this might be a good time for a pitstop to break things up. In writing, this happens when we get to a point where the words stop flowing and we begin to force them. If you reach this point, take a break.
If you’re ahead of the other cars by a full lap, you might want to take advantage of it. A new set of tires and a few moments of relaxation couldn’t hurt. Likewise, if you’ve plowed through ten chapters of your book, you might want to take a breather!
The next question is what do you do during your pitstop to recharge? I’ll offer two suggestions:
One: Anything Other Than Writing
The point here is that you need to take a break, so do that. Find something that makes you happy that doesn’t involve writing and do it, Go for a hike, take a long walk, play some basketball, watch a movie, or listen to some music. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, take a weekend camping trip, go horseback riding, or kayak down the rapids. If you’re a homebody, read a good book unrelated to your genre or play a board game with your family.
Two: Get Out of Your Head
If the point is to recharge, then drain the battery before powering up. Forget about the plot for a day or two and focus on other things. Make a concerted effort to ignore your writing until you come back to it refreshed and ready to go.
The final question is: How do you re-enter the race without losing your place? The answer is fairly simple. Think of your break as a pitstop. Once you’re refueled, it’s time to get back out on the racetrack. I can’t emphasize enough just how important this is – if you wait too long, you’ll come in last. Take only the time that you need to recharge and not a minute more. When you’re feeling refreshed and ready to go, get right back in the race!
Thank you for reading. See you soon.