Sometimes we all need a break. From reality. From our friends. From everything.
I usually never take breaks, but this time I had to. I had reached an impasse in my writing and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I had done everything. I had started a new project, had abandoned it, had written short stories, had written several posts, had read a few new books on writing, had even taken classes purely for motivation’s sake.
I had done so much that I had exhausted myself. I felt like giving up.
So, I did.
I stopped doing, and I stopped cold turkey. I stopped writing for two weeks, something I had never done before. And something amazing happened!
I got my mojo back.
That’s right. During my vacation from writing, I gained new insights and was inspired to start a new project that shames the others I had tried to accomplish when I was too drained to produce anything at all. I’m still a bit rusty (you may be able to tell from this post), but I’m ready to write again.
I know many people warn against what I did. I’ve heard that writers have to write every day. They must practice, keep their skills sharp and the inspiration coming in. They have to be diligent in everything, taking short breaks but never giving up.
It worked for me, though. And I think I know why.
When I decided that I was not going to be a writer anymore (that seems so drastic, doesn’t it?), I finally let my subconscious rest. For the past year or so, I’ve been a big bully to him. I’ve prodded him often, urging something unique to come out. At times, I’ve taken him by the shoulders and shook him, hoping that he would relinquish some gem that I could profit from.
When I finally left him alone for a little while, he rewarded me. Not at first. No, he had to make sure I wasn’t going to attack at the first sign of something promising. He waited, then he tested me with a short story idea. I thought about it for a while, let the idea simmer, but never worked on it. I was done, remember? Not interested. Ready for the next adventure.
So, then he had to get my attention.
He did it while I was at work, when I was least expecting it. One of my coworkers was talking to me about the Chernobyl disaster. Suddenly, I felt more motivated than I had in years. I had a project. Something so real I felt like I could hold it up and show it off. When I got home, I researched Chernobyl so well that I feel like I’ve been there myself. That research spiraled into other bits for the novel that was falling into place. Government conspiracy. Radiation. Thyroid cancer. All of these images and ideas came rushing at me, exactly when I needed them. I could ask a question and instead of pondering for days for the answer, my subconscious would offer it up immediately. But, where will they live? “In the same climate as Chernobyl, of course!” How will I decide which state? “Where is the least amount of radiation?” These streams of question and answer flooded me. In every free moment, I was planning for something that I think will be my next novel and probably the best yet.
I’m not saying this will work for everyone, and I’m definitely not encouraging it. I’m just telling my story, because I think what happened was amazing.. Maybe that’s why writers are warned to keep going, because if we ever do stop we may never start again. I’m not sure about this, but I think part of being a writer is the buoyancy. If you are a real writer, you can never give up. Not entirely. You may take a break for a week or a year or a decade, but I think there is a strength within every writer that cannot lay dormant for long. When we have given up, something pulls us out. We get back into the game, not because we want to, but because something in us requires it of us. And we must yield, because when we do, incredible things happen.
I know I’ve been away for a while, but I’m excited to be back. I have some posts lined up, a guest blogger or two we can hear from, and I’m going to jump back on the #WriteMotivation train next month, because I have missed it. I needed my break, but I have really missed the support I get from the writers involved in #WriteMotivation and those who offer encouraging words here. I’ve also missed encouraging others on their own blogs, and I’m so glad to be back so that I can do that again!