Friday, May 11, 2018

Don’t Write Every Day: 9 Ways to Rest and Rejuvenate - A Guest Post by Beth Wangler

This post is brought to you by my blog, Beth Wangler, and irony. Why irony, you ask? Well, Beth's post is all about the importance of resting and rejuvenating. She is kindly and epically guest posting today because I am off doing the exact opposite of resting: studying for finals, working, and generally being a ball of stress wrapped in tiredness. HOWEVER, this post did help me calm down a lot, so I'm beyond pleased to be able to share it with you. Kick back, relax, and soak in indie author Beth Wangler's wise and entertaining advice: 

If you’ve spent more than two minutes on the writer side of the internet, you’ve probably come across this advice from such masters as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King: “Write every day.” We writers tend to parrot this. These words of advice pass from person to person, gaining weight with repetition.

At this point, if someone made a 10 Commandments for writers, this would probably be at the very top.

I agree with the heart of this writing advice. The surest way to at anything is practice. Also, if you don’t write, you’ll never finish your WIP (and by you, I mean myself).

We should take this rule by its heart, not by the letter. In the indie world, where most of us work one or more day jobs in addition to writing, taking this advice as a law is dangerous. It leads to the two most common kinds of posts I see on Twitter: the “I’m terrible for not reaching my word count and don’t deserve to call myself a writer” post, or the “I’ve reached near-zombie status from habitually sleep deprivation, but why am I so tired and disheartened?” post.

If we keep up at this pace, we’re in danger of writing ourselves into an early grave. Just like the need for food, water, and air, the need for rest is built into who we are as humans. Pretending otherwise is unhealthy. Death by overwork may be rare, but overwork has other negative health consequences. It also saps our creative energy and robs us of our joy in our stories.

In her recent article on keeping deadlines, Hannah mentioned the importance of taking breaks for productivity. There are different kinds of breaks with different levels of refreshment. Binge watching entire shows, playing Candy Crush, or scrolling through Pinterest may be the easiest break activity, but I often find them less refreshing than I expected. Sometimes I’m more drained after these mindless “rests” than I was before.

To help make your rest as restful as possible, I’ve come up with nine ways to really rest and rejuvenate when you take a break from writing.
Don’t Write Every Day: 9 Ways to Rest and Rejuvenate
1. Read Books

I’m starting easy. If you’re a writer, chances are I don’t have to convince you to read. Read a silly book just for fun. Read a classic and bask in the prose. Read a non-fiction book on a topic you find fascinating. Escape into another world for a while.

Even as reading refreshes you, it will also help you be a better writer. You’ll learn what to do and what to avoid. Read books in your preferred genre, but also branch out. Try new things. Reading widely will help you better understand the world and the many kinds of people in it.

2. Visit Local Nature

Maybe being outside comes naturally for you. I usually get caught up with computer screens and desks and forget to see the sun most of the time. This is a pity, because few things are as refreshing as going somewhere where nature surrounds you, taking a deep breath, and really looking at the world.

Local parks, plant nurseries, hiking trails, beaches, mountains, zoos, and observatories are great places for this. Go to familiar and new places. Have a picnic. Go for a walk. Take a hike. Surf or scuba dive.

The latter of these also count as:

3. Exercise

I’m not particularly fond of this one myself, but exercise is healthy. Moving our bodies helps them function better. Bodies functioning better keeps us feeling better. Feeling better keeps us happier. Happier writers write more.

Also, physical activities can be a breath of fresh air to a cluttered mind.

I’m far from an expert on this one, so I’m just going to brainstorm. You can: Go to the gym, train for a marathon, walk around the block, start or continue playing a sport, hike, swim, do yoga, or...yeah, I’m out of ideas, except following Pooh’s example. If you have more ideas, let us know in the comments!

4. Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. One simple way to refresh yourself is to take a break from taking things seriously. Look up corny jokes or bad (by which I mean, awesome) puns. Watch that movie that always has you rolling on the floor. Call up that friend who puts a smile on your face.

I have a Pinterest board of humor, creatively titled “For When I Need to Laugh.” My rule for the board is that I only pin things if they made me literally laugh out loud the first time I saw them. This can be a more refreshing use for Pinterest.

5. Make a Spectacularly Delicious Meal

In the rush of life, it’s easy to grab whatever’s handy. Food is a necessity, and so we may end up treating it as just another box to tick. There’s something very therapeutic about slowing down enough to mix your ingredients together with care into a truly yummy masterpiece. Baking also counts.

6. Community Service

Doing something big or small for others may seem like work, but you might find it very restorative. It takes your mind out of the cares of your own world, gives you a tangible way to make an immediate impact on others, broadens your compassion, and opens your eyes to unexpected blessings. Schools, shelters, libraries, national parks, museums, and more are good places to start.

7. Enjoy Non-Writing Creative Things

Experience someone else’s creativity. Visit an art gallery or museum. Attend a dance recital or orchestral performance at your local theater. Eat at the restaurant of an acclaimed chef near you.

You can also invest in your own neglected hobbies. You know what these are better than I do. Don’t let that love die because you are chained to your keyboard or notebook.

8. Talk to Humans

I know, most of us are introverts. I am one, myself.

The thing is, we still need human interaction. Desperately. Humans are social creatures. For every introvert I’ve met, there’s been a consensus that meaningless interactions are draining, but rich and deep interactions are rejuvenating.

Yeah, it’s hard sometimes. But don’t be like Mr. Darcy. Practice anyways. Good conversation is a skill that can be learned, you just have to be willing to:

9. Try Something New (and Scary)

This can be as simple as drinking a new tea or as big as travelling to a new country. Doing something new gives you more experience (which makes you a better writer), fills you with a sense of accomplishment, and empowers you to conquer fears.

So go forth and rest. Your story will still be there when you come back. Your word count is not your measure of value. You are important and you are an author regardless of what anyone else does. You have my permission to not write every day.

What things do you find truly refreshing?

Beth Wangler is one of my favorite people. After reading this post, I bet she's now one of your favorite people, too. Not only is she a fellow indie author and Phoenix Fiction Writer, but she also happens to have one of the most charming, wholesome social media presences in existence. You'll want to follow her: 

Website | Novella | PFW Page | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

After you follow her, be sure to leave a comment below! And do yourself a favor and follow tip 1 by reading The Weavers' Blessings. It's an amazing, charming, magical fairy tale novella that is perfect for relaxing and rejuvenating. 

Have writing, reading, or writer's life questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related article:
7 Tips for Balancing Your Writing with the Rest of Life
9 Tips for Dealing With Writer's Burnout

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  1. YESS!!! I love how you pointed out that rest is not just a physical lack of activity, but the mind needs rest and refreshment too. Great suggestions! Thanks for putting this post together. It reminded me that I have this goal to live a balanced life and I need to evaluate how I'm doing. ;)

  2. I agree with the hobbies thing, it's too easy to let those go by the wayside when we're "too busy" (especially if you have an all-or-nothing personality like me) but they're just as valuable as anything else we pursue creatively.

    These sound like a lot of fun! Thanks for the suggestions.

  3. I am an Orthodox Jew, which means that one day a week I have a religiously enforced mental and physical rest. No writing, no computers, I don't even answer the phone. When I'm in the flow of a new story it can be hard to put it aside for a whole day, but I find that I do my best writing on Saturday night after the Sabbath is over. It's like the enforced rest period lets the words build up inside me, and instead of every sentence being a brain twisting effort like wringing water from a dry sponge, the story flows with almost no mental effort. This also makes me feel less guilty if I miss my writing time a couple days a week because I know I'll be doing triple the writing on Saturday night.


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