Last week I wrote all about how it’s important to write often. That very same day, fellow writer Madison wrote all about how you shouldn’t feel bad for not writing. Which you should definitely go and read by the way, because it’s a great post. It was a funny coincidence but it did make me feel the need for a little clarification.
I believe you should write often, keep up the skill, don’t let it get away from you. That does NOT mean that it is all you should ever do and, like Madison says, doesn’t mean you are any less serious about being a writer.
Burnout is a writer’s killer. I know, I’ve been there a good few times. You’re desperate to get something finished, you have Everest height goals. You want to write ALL the stories, and you think if you aren’t writing them right at that second that you are a failure. And the end result has always been me having to take a hefty break from writing, sometimes even up to a month or more. Then you end up further in the guilt hole and it is a vicious cycle.
Writing often is important, but writing once a week is often. There isn’t a lot you’re going to forget in a week. I was away from writing for five years. That’s a long time. A week? You can deal with that. A lot of people say that it is essential that you write every single day but I certainly don’t and have still managed a decent volume of output over the last two years. Sometimes there are deadlines and you have to push yourself. Other times you just have the muse. The rest of the time? Well, making yourself sit down and write can be beneficial, but NOT if it is all you ever do. Not only will you end up headbutting your desk, but you’ll end up hating writing, which is the exact opposite reason why most people want to actually write in the first place. (Unless, of course, all you ever want to do is write. In which case I will hunt you down and steal your inspiration, because that would be awesome.)
If you want to take a break, do it. If you would rather practice something else, go for it. Don’t have a deadline and you’re dying to play that game? Why not?
My mantra is that writing is fun. Fun doesn’t come with guilt. Don’t feel bad for taking a break. Don’t feel bad for having other hobbies. Just look at Madison. Gamer, artist, parkourist (is that a word?) and a hundred other things – all while managing to write a fantastic story about a one armed magician. Watch that space for Half a Man. It’s gonna be good.
Keep up the good writing, guys! And the gaming. And crafting. And exercising and sitting around watching TV.
However, if the muse has struck, maybe you should wander over to Melanie’s writing games! Check this out, it should be fun fun fun!