Being a Writer on a Break

To be completely honest, my life is a mess these days.

Now don’t worry. It’s a good mess. I’m finishing up the last couple weeks of my first year at college and I have not gotten as much done as I had wanted to be done by now. I’m behind on papers for my classes. I’ve let the March Micro Fiction Challenge slip from my routine. My blog posts have been going up late this month. And we are less than a week from Camp NaNoWriMo. (Ahh!!)

I’m juggling an insane amount of things in my life and I’ve just come to the comical realization that I can’t juggle.

Yes Chiante. Thanks for sharing your very average college student woes. How does this relate to writing?

Yes, yes. I’m getting there. There are a few ways I could tackle this, but today I’m going to say this to all the people who have watched life’s responsibilities consume the time they usually set aside for writing and are despairing (like I was earlier this week).

You don’t stop being a writer even when you take a break from writing.

Let me say that again.

You. Are still a writer. Whether or not you are currently writing.

Too often I have heard writers tell me that they are putting writing on the back burner until they can get life under control—which is completely reasonable. Priorities shift during different seasons and different points of life. But what isn’t reasonable is assuming that prioritising other things makes you any less of a writer.

Realistically a person can’t write all the time. There are all kinds of responsibilities that need attention: Family, work, bills, school, food, sleep, self-care. Realistically a person shouldn’t try to write all the time especially at the sake of some of these things.

I personally experienced this imbalance last November when I wrote a novel which I hated and later regretted partially because of how much I abandoned the things I truly care about like my family, my school work and most importantly, my relationship with God. Hitting that 50,000 word count became an idol in my life that was more important than anything else.

Trust me. It is not worth sacrificing the things that truly truly matter for getting in that hour or two of writing everyday.

Besides this imbalance of priorities, there is something truly wonderful about the times when a writer isn’t writing. Those are the times for living and learning about the world in order to rejuvenate the creative soul. Breaks from writing are times for rest and for a renewal of perspectives.

I’m an advocate for writing about what you know *with a modifier that I’ll have to delve into some other time. And if a person only spends their time writing, they are cutting short the life they could be experiencing (and later writing about).

It’s okay to take a break from writing. Whether consciously to rejuvenate the creative soul, or unconsciously when other responsibilities become priorities, but what’s important is to remember the intrinsic importance of the time spent not writing.

Not only will the distance from that writing make the heart grow fonder upon its return, but there is nothing quite like returning to a project with a clear focus and purpose.

That’s the posture with which I’ve been facing this month of craziness when life takes the front seat and writing gets moved to the backburner. Sure there is no time to spend fine-tunning my novel plans for Camp NaNo, sure I have miserably failed in the Micro Fiction Challenge, sure my blog has been neglected this month, and sure I’d much rather write about my characters than about the issues of nonverbal communication in artificial intelligence…

But.

I’m still a writer. I’m just a writer on a break. And that’s what matters.

 

Have you ever been a writer on a break? What was it like coming back to writing after being away from it for a while?

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