It’s pretty easy to get carried away when it comes to writing. A lot of authors agree that writing is a largely solitary act, one that hinges prominently on the writer and what the writer knows – or is trying to make up – and how the writer can deliver these pieces of knowledge. Of course, the idea of co-authorship or interpretation comes into play, when the reader steps in. But before that part of the process, the writer has to focus on actually writing. The tendency, then, is to keep the self isolated from all forms of distracting activity, people, or an environment that’s not conducive to writing. At the very least, the writer attempts to look for a place that can be intellectually stimulating and challenging, and from there, takes off.
So we understand – hopefully – the importance of leaving the writer alone to labor over his or her own work of art. It’s important to remember that writing is not exactly a simple art – you don’t just sit down and let the words flow. It’s a painstaking process – something which we have already highlighted previously, when we touched on writing as a career option – and one that requires monstrous amounts of attention towards the piece and unwavering concentration. That’s why it’s easy to get carried away – the writer is left alone with his or her piece and the imagination for hours, with no company, except perhaps a glass of water or a cup of coffee.
Of course, the silent setting and the solitude that a writer can afford are things ideal to the writing process itself. But even a conducive writing environment can get taxing, frustrating, especially if you work in a static place for hours on end. Imagine something like cabin fever, and perhaps you get the idea, except this time it’s further aggravated by the desire to write and the inability to satisfactorily articulate yourself. Writers experience this. Perhaps not all the time, but certainly a writer must have had his or her fair share of blocks. And while one can attempt to go on and push through with the piece, often, the writer might feel insufficient when it comes to the writing that he or she is producing, and will, if he or she persists, experience the loop and end up nowhere and frustrated.
The best thing that you, as a writer, can do, when faced with this kind of situation, is to step away from your writing. It sounds counterproductive, because on the surface it won’t actually be addressing the problem – that is, not being able to write – by forcing you away from the instrument that you need in order to write. But it’s precisely this stepping away from writing that will help in arming you with the right tools to write.
What tools? Nothing so incredible or terrifying – only that you, as the writer, will be cleansed of the pressure to write, and the intense need to produce something right on the spot. In short, stepping away from writing for a while – a day or two – gives you time to breathe, collect your thoughts, and reconnect with others.
One might argue that going out into the world and doing something else could just be a form of slacking off. Well, to a certain extent, this is true. How much you slack off, though, depends on you. Even while you’re away from your writing, you have to have enough discipline to go back when you feel physically and mentally ready for another writing session. Of course writing habits are helpful. Of course writing regularly is something that can aid you in your creative pursuits. But, if we parallel this to, say, machines, too much work will wear out the gears and cause things to overheat. Writing constantly without allowing yourself any breaks will cause you to, so to speak, overheat. And when things get heated, you get burned out, get turned off by writing, and maybe step away too long from it that you won’t be able to go back again the way you want to.
And, while writers might prize their solitude, it helps sometimes to reconnect with the world while you’re working on your piece, to let the world into your piece. That is, whatever you glean from that reconnection – watching news, for instance, or meeting up with friends – may be turned into material for your stories. Who knows? Maybe what your plot needs actually lies out there somewhere, and you need only look for it on your time off.
Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t confine yourself. But writing is an act of co-creation, and while the writer is the translator, what the writer is actually doing is transferring everything onto a page, in the way that he or she sees it, in the way that he or she interprets it. But if you have a tired mind, all this interpretation will fall flat.
Bottomline is, remember to take a break every once in a while. Muscles can get overworked, machines overheat, and in the same way, too much writing will lead to writing fatigue. Take enough of a break to be able to clear your head and energize yourself. Pretty soon, you’ll be writing winners.