I took the day off from writing today and spent the first two hours of it trying not to feel guilty.
Most writers say you won’t get anywhere unless you write every day without fail. That may be true for them and it may be true for you. If so, don’t take a day off.
To me, writing is a bit like a diet or exercise program. You have to do it every day to get into the habit of eating properly or toning your muscles. It takes time, but eventually you reach a point where not following the regimen makes your whole day seem off.
For me, taking a day off from writing now and then helps clear away the cobwebs and let that side of my brain rest. A day off from exercising or strictly following a diet regimen gives your body a chance to rest and gives you an opportunity to reward yourself for being “good.”
You can spend your day off doing almost anything. Eat ice cream. Loll around on a deck chair all afternoon watching birds fly by.
The best thing you can do as a writer, in my opinion, is lift your nose from the grindstone and look around. Reconnect with the world.
Go to the park, take a walk, strike up a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store. Give your dog a bath. Give the cat a bath if you’re feeling reckless.
Grab your camera and practice taking closeups of bumblebees. The danger of being stung will almost certainly make the experience bigger and brighter for you.
If you have any young relatives, call or visit and spend time talking to them. A conversation with a four-year-old is often at once hopelessly garbled and crystal clear.
Keep a small notebook and pen with you, just in case. You may find during your day doing anything but writing that your work is simmering on the back burner of your mind.
New ideas may bubble over here and there. A sticky plot situation may resolve itself while you’re tossing bread crumbs to the ducks at the park. Write them down and put the notebook away, out of sight, to avoid the temptation to keep writing.
Tomorrow, when you glue your butt back into your chair and reattach that ball and chain, the short notes you took on your day off may help jumpstart your work.