Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Okay to Take a Day Off

NaNo update:
Days spent writing - 3
Words written - 18,924
Goal - 100,000 words in 16 days

Hi everyone. I feel like I'm poking my head outside, even though life hasn't stopped still while I've retreated into some kind of writing cave. If you look at the stats above, you'll notice that not only am I trying to do double the regular NaNo word count, but also in half the time.

Why is that?

Well, life happens. I have a family and several other obligations. So do most of you. A few days before November started I pulled up my monthly calendar, calculated how many days I was pretty sure I'd get some writing time in, and how many words I'd have to write each of those days to meet my goal. Luckily 6500-7000 words doesn't intimidate me. Word vomit is easy. The internal editor is tied and gagged, I jump around from key scene to key scene, not stressing over transitions or plot layers and I get a first draft done. The main story.

And oh, how I needed this kind of writing freedom! I've been in editing mode for too long. Editing drafts are the ones that help you grow and at the same time make you feel inferior, stupid, and weak as a writer. Going on editing mode for a great length of time wears down your ambition, your self-esteem, and your love for writing.

Which brings me to the main point of this blogpost. We need days off, guilt-free days, where we feel no constraint to approach writing or editing. I know the usual mantra on the internet is to write every day. I've found it counter-productive to drive myself at that pace, even if it's a measly 500 words one day and 5,000 another. I always reserve one day of the week to not write. And I've never broken that resolve. It's my day to step back from most things that I do during the week. I rest. I relax. I don't allow myself to feel the slightest bit anxious or guilty because I'm not writing. I don't even jot down writing notes if ideas come to me. If they're strong enough ideas, they'll keep until the next day.

After three intensive days of writing for NaNo I've pondered more on the idea of a day of rest from writing. Not a compulsion to rest because of outside obligations, but the choice to rest. To live and focus on resting. After 4-5 hours each day of nonstop writing, when I took my day off, it made a world of difference getting back into the third day's writing work. It's easy to become brain fried, dry out your eyes, and get headaches if you devote hours to writing every single day. If you suffer from these kinds of symptoms, I recommend setting aside a day off from writing. Take it even if you didn't get much done the rest of the week. Let it be your guilt-free day.

And now, I have to get back to work. I wasn't planning on writing today but some free time opened up unexpectedly and I intend to take advantage of it, because who knows what will pop up on one of my designated days to write?


  1. So wish I had this ability to do word count so easily. It's pulling teeth for me to do over 1200.

    Enjoy your day off when you have one.