Friday, December 14, 2012

Taking the Time

Okay, so I've been doing this writing thing for 5 years now. I've been playing the social media game for nearly as long. All of it is starting to wear me to the bone. Perhaps you feel the same. Maybe you don't.

I do know I used to worry about how much time I spent writing. It never seemed to be enough, and at the same time, it was too many hours away from my family. I still constantly see people's word counts and notice them writing for many hours each day, neither of which I can replicate.

I used to work myself into a frenzy about this, thinking that "everyone" must write for hours every day, and if I couldn't, then I would not succeed.

You'll notice I've been saying "I used to."

I don't worry about those things anymore, and if you're worrying about them (or anything remotely close to this), now is a good time to stop. It's almost the new year, and many people set resolutions in their personal lives. I do too, but for the past few years, I've been setting some writing goals as well.

Maybe you'll try it this year, and maybe one of your goals will be this: Take one day off every week. One WHOLE day off. From writing. From social media. From marketing, cover designing, planning, blogging, emailing, all of it.

That's what I've been doing for this past year. Sometimes it's hard to maintain (I admit to checking and sending emails on my day off). Sometimes a deadline comes up and I have to work 7 days a week to meet it.

But more often than not, I don't. It's a choice I was making, and it was wearing me out.

So now I take every Sunday completely off. I lay around in pajamas, and go to church, and watch movies, and play games, and whatever. I do not write. Or edit. Or market. Or tweet. Or get on Facebook.

It is the best day ever.

What do you do to relieve some of the writing stress? Do you have any writing goals for 2013? Could you take an entire day off every week? 


27 comments:

Julia Karr said...

Excellent post, Elana! I think we all need time to recharge ourselves - to take in, rather than give out - I'm sure it's no accident that when a person collapses from doing too much their energy "gave out." We have to have to time to "fill the well" (as Julia Cameron says in The Artist's Way.) Thanks for this timely reminder! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's a great idea Elana. I don't know if I can take a whole day off, but I am taking a little time some evenings to watch TV (gasp!). And I agree with you, the pressure to always be productive can get wearing. I'm terrible at fitting in my writing time but am committed to a small period of time most days after the New Year and not stressing about it so much unless I get a publishing contract with deadlines.

Kim Harrington said...

Great idea, Elana! We all need a day to relax and refill the well. I think it makes us stronger creatively as well.

Julie Luek said...

Elana-- this is a very relevant topic for me. I have been giving this whole writing, social media thing a huge revisit lately. I don't do well with a lot of group-think-affiliation stuff. I start to launch into comparison or wanting to keep up and neither is good for me. Thanks for the affirmation that we each have to find our way through this.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Writing doesn't cause me stress. Not writing (fiction) causes me stress. To deal with it, I cut down on the other things (like social networking when the kids are home), so that I don't have to sacrifice what I love doing the most.

I do have writing goals (business plans) for 2013. I do every year, but they always end up changing at some point. New story ideas love to ignore writing goals. lol

Angela Brown said...

Taking time off is VERY important. If not, a frenzy is just the beginning of the downward spiral.

I haven't taken a whole day off, though I have reduced the amount of time I spend online and writing. Because I do have plans to release more projects in 2013, I have some writing to do and I don't mind taking a week long hiatus from social media to focus here and there. If the writing doesn't happen, all the social media in the world won't matter without the written words to share with readers.

Anita Saxena said...

I think I need a day where I can just be home and do whatever I want, whether it be writing or not writing, reading or not reading. I'm just all over the place all the time and sometimes it gets old.

Dustin Hansen said...

Perfect! I've been taking 1 day a week off for, well, forever and it really helps. Good for you. On the social media side of things, I realized last year that it was more of an addiction than anything so I've curbed that as well, but I am making promises to myself this year to pull that back a swell.

5 years in and nearly 3 books pub'd - you're a rockstar. I can't wait to see/read what the next 5 bring.

:)

SA Larsenッ said...

Fantastic advice. It might seem simple, too, but it's not. As writers, most of us tend to feel guilty if we're not writing. If we're in the middle of a project, we feel like we're letting the characters down by not taking them further in their story. If we're between projects, we feel like we MUST get something started. It can be mentally exhausting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Taking a day off is tough. But this year I took a few more vacations than normal, which helped. And for relieving stress, nothing beats playing the guitar.

Eric said...

Great post Elana. This is a great idea and one I firmly believe in. No matter what we're embroiled in, balance is the key. We have to maintain a sense of balance with ALL the aspects of our life or it all falls down. Although I am not yet a full-time writer, I do take breaks from my regular job all the time (though ignoring the emails from work is definitely hard). It feels good though and I go back a little more refreshed.

Emily said...

Wonderful post! I haven't written a word in two weeks (since NaNo) and it has been very cathartic for my soul and my family. I'm realizing that a balance is a good thing to have. And also, that it's not a race. I can take my time in writing the best book that I can!

Also, I'm starting to get that itch to write again, which is a good thing. To WANT to write.

Alice said...

Good advice.It's hard for me to take a day off of writing but I make myself do it and it helps me not to get burned out.

Shanda said...

This is an excellent idea for people in general, and one I will be adopting immediately. Thanks!

Martha Ramirez said...

Good advice! I have to take weekends off to keep Hubby happy. If it were up to me I probably would be writing 24/7 but taking time off actually does keep you sane.

It's true. It's hard to stay away but once you do it really does help.

Carrie Butler said...

I so want to try this next year! :D

Cynthia Lee said...

I only write while at work, during the whole of my lunch hour and maybe 15 or 30 mins before I leave for the day.

It's working beautifully so far. No complaints from my husband, no complaints from my 6 month old baby.

I've cut way, way back on social media. I don't honestly think it sells many books. I know this notion is sometimes controversial. It's good for many things just not selling books.

I don't know how much time revising will take or when I'll be able to squeeze it in. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Jaime Theler said...

Sunday is my day off too! We instituted a media blackout day - no TV, no computer, no email, no FB or Twitter. I didn't realize how compulsive I had become about some of those things until my kids started hollering if they saw me emailing from my phone. It's heavenly!

Nicole said...

That sounds amazing! I love this idea. Right now, I'm constantly playing catch up, so a purposeful day off would be fantastic.

Kathryn Purdie said...

When I began writing seriously three years ago, I promised myself not to write on Sundays. I still check emails and obviously other blogs, but maybe I should cut out those things on this day too. Having a peaceful, writing-free Sunday has given me a day to rest my brain, pay more attention to my family, and find more of that elusive balance I'm always seeking. Great post!

Lydia Kang said...

For the first time in a long time, I'm seeing my commitment to writing and social networking taking a toll on my personal life. I used to want to write every spare minute of the day, and I've loosened that up. It's been a good thing.

Carol Riggs said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I'm glad you're re-evaluating. Good for you! My writing goals for 2013 involve finishing my WIP...I'm only on page 40, so I have a ways to go. But I do want to balance out the writing with life, too. Happy holidays!!

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Mary Lindsey said...

This is such wise advice. I try to do the same. My true goal is to take off two complete days a week. I even blocked out two weeks over the holidays to which I limited myself to minor online time and only an hour a day of writing. You are right. It is worth it.

Wishing you the best year ever in 2013, Elana.

mare ball said...
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mare ball said...

This is a great idea. I'm too attached to all the screens!

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