I used to find resting scary. During long breaks, I used to play a video game or watch a show after long weeks of hard work, and I felt like I was being unproductive. My brain automatically made a list of the things I could be doing instead of resting. The only thing I ended up doing was getting stressed and spoiling my fun (plus, I became an expert procrastinator). To be honest, I still think this way from time to time. Sometimes I overwork myself to exhaustion, and I harm my health in doing so. However, I am now making an active effort to avoid this way of overthinking. I am proud to say that I am making slow but steady progress. I know many young writers might struggle with this as well, so here are the three main things I am doing to take advantage of winter break in a healthier way.
Please, please sleep. I often see members of the writing community almost bragging about how they stayed up all night finishing a chapter, a poem, a revision. I used to do this as well. I even thought that sleeping more than I needed to was unproductive, and I felt guilty when I overslept. I recently realized how toxic this behavior is. In fact, the benefits of sleep are endless: it helps your immune system, your memory, reduces your stress, increases your productivity, among others. Especially since many just finished finals, taking naps or waking up late is essential for healing burnouts. You need to recharge, so take advantage of this break to sleep more than you usually do.
Sleeping is more important than reaching 10K words tonight. Yes, even if we are only two hundred words away from the goal. If more of us prioritize sleep, fewer writers in our community will feel pressured to put their craft before their mental or physical health. And, if by any chance, you are reading this late at night, I am now urging you to close your computer and get some rest.
Fill your creative well
During this break, I plan to write several flash fiction pieces. But if I entirely dedicate myself to them, I know I will lose motivation quickly. Life is busy, and I do not write as much as I would like to during my regular schedule. But it is not sustainable to spend countless “break” hours working on my WIP. By the end, I will just get tired. Therefore, instead of using my every thought for my stories, I am making sure that I fill my creative well. I am going back to my old hobbies, such as video games, baking, and photography. I am taking time to experiment with messy poetry, read a book that has been in my TBR for a bit too long, and go on long walks. I am approaching my creativity in new ways, so my mind acknowledges it and puts it into practice whenever I do write.
I am searching for activities in which competition disappears. I want to simply enjoy my projects. I will not feel disappointed if I do not complete every single one of them.
Review your mindset
What really scares me about resting is downtime. Times when I binge-watch a series I enjoy and feel like I am doing “nothing”. I need to remind myself that I cannot work if I do not rest. If I try to write when I am tired, I will fall into a block. I need to give my brain options, differentiate work from rest, and acknowledge that they are both important and must be well balanced.
Here are some of my reminders for different situations that I find useful, please feel free to take your pick.
is a young planster with too much passion and too little time on a day. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, whether they are thoroughly researched flash fiction pieces or improvised bedtime stories.