Write every day. Treat writing like a job. These are common bits of writing advice. Sure, they are helpful to those of us who avoid writing and make up excuses so they don’t have to write. But what happens when you’re the person who takes this kind of advice seriously and works yourself to the bone to follow the advice?
If you’re feeling burnt out or as if you’re on your last legs mentally, then give yourself permission to take a writing hiatus.
What is a writing Hiatus?
It’s a break from writing. You take a day, a week, a month, or a year off from writing. The idea is to take a break to get mentally recharged.
It’s like a seed. When you plant a seed, nothing grows for a few days as you water it. But soon, little green leaves poke through the soil and grow into a healthy plant. That break, where you are watering it every day despite there being nothing visible, is akin to a break from writing. You’re taking care of yourself, so you can grow something beautiful when the time comes.
Seeds also can go into survival mode. Some spores from Ancient Egypt that were two thousand years old could germinate and grow into plants. You might not have to go into survival mode for thousands of years, but the idea is still the same.
How do I know if I should take a hiatus?
You check in with yourself and see how you are feeling.
If you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, chances are that you need a hiatus. You might feel burnout, like writing is another thing on your to-do list and holds no joy for you, or like you have a million things on your mind that you have to do and not enough time to do everything.
How long I should take off?
If you feel like getting back to writing, feel mentally stable, and no longer feel burnout, then signs are good you can end your hiatus. You want to feel better. You want to feel less like you will break down, just surviving, or like writing is a chore. As soon as writing sounds fun again, begin writing.
Hiatuses are a way of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself and get back to a better mental space.
Sometimes writing is how we get back to a mental health space. Sometimes we need a hiatus. Experiment. If after a couple days of not writing you feel worse, chances are a hiatus is not the right solution for whatever problem you are having.
Checking in with yourself regularly is the key to a healthy lifestyle for the creative. Physical, mental, social, and creative aspects of your life all need to be accounted for a healthy lifestyle.
Have you ever taken a hiatus? Tell me about it!