That’s right, I just told you to set aside your work and walk way. Before you brush this off as procrastination, consider for a moment that writing is a form of work. You are asking your brain to create deep and meaningful characters while juggling aspects of the story and plot together in the hopes of creating something both riveting and memorable. Just like you can’t pump iron all day every day, you can’t push your brain at a non-stop pace without having it break down and quit on you at some point.
Not a coma, but writer’s block and burnout both come immediately to mind. While it is certainly important to keep up the habit of writing at least something every day, you don’t have to be obsessive about it to the point of sitting in front of the keyboard from morning to night. In fact, you may find that you will be far more productive by spending less time writing. It is an odd paradox.
Take a Hike
I grant you that I am more inclined to walking than jogging. I find it has two distinct advantages. First is that I am terrible at running and jogging. Even in my best shape, I still can’t manage cover more ground in the same period of time than if I was walking at a quick pace anyway. Second is that it lets me observe the world around me and take in what I see. The best part is that it is a form of exercise where I can gain all of the mental benefits without all of the pain and physical stress. The link between how our minds work and how active our bodies are is well documented. Take time to do some sort of exercise every day and you will notice an improvement in your productivity.
Read a Book
If you want to write well, you need to read well. Reading the works of others provides fuel for new ideas and gives us a broad range of writing styles to draw from in finding our own voice. Read broadly. If you only read one genre, or worse, one author everything you write is going to sound like that. When I first started writing, I read a great deal of Piers Anthony and it showed clearly in my writing style. I hadn’t found my own voice then and so much of what I wrote came across clearly in his. I know this because even those who had no idea I read Piers Anthony repeatedly mentioned how it seemed a lot like his writing.
Good authors all read. Great authors read broadly so that they can draw from an even broader range of styles and voices to form their own. Time spent reading is often just as productive as the time spent writing.
Do Something Mindless
Play a video game, go to a movie, take a long hot soak in a hot tub. Do anything that lets your mind relax without being asleep. This tends to invoke the Eureka theory. While your conscious mind isn’t actively looking at a problem, your subconscious mind picks up the slack with all of its creativity. In the background, it plugs away at the problem and doesn’t bother you with what it is doing until it has an answer. There you are, mindlessly relaxing when suddenly you jump up and shout ‘Eureka!”
Okay, so maybe it isn’t always that dramatic, but the point remains valid. If you take the time to let your mind wander away from the problem, it can get creative and start drawing on all sorts of things to provide you with the answer. The real trick to it is that you can’t be thinking about the problem consciously. Going to have a nice hot soak and spending the whole time fretting about it doesn’t change your situation in the least, just your location.
Get To It
I don’t advocate procrastination, though I have been guilty of it more than a few times. What I advocate is understanding that to be effective you have to turn yourself away from the typing from time to time and towards something else. As long as you write a little each day, it will all even out. And if you take the time to step away, the finished product will be far better. Good luck in your writing and enjoy the much deserved break.