Why Rest is Good for Your Writing

Why Rest is Good for Your Writing

Last week was my Spring Break, and I sure did need it. Time away from school and work allowed me to reconnect with my writing. I also took a trip to a beach town and drew inspiration from the sounds of the ocean, the quaint and colorful houses, and the history of the place. Overall, I found it restful—and insightful.

Recently, I’ve experienced two different types of “rest” when it comes to writing. One is taking a break from writing, either as a whole or from a particular story. This might be done on purpose, as distance from a story can add perspective on necessary changes, or by circumstance. In February, I took a break from writing forced upon me by circumstance. While I didn’t intend for it to happen, it’s okay, as “time off” from writing taught me a few things. I learned that I need to be diligent and discipline myself to work writing time into my schedule, as well as set better, perhaps smaller goals over my writing progress while I’m still in school. Now that I’ve continued work on my current novel work-in-progress, I noticed that I’ve become less of a perfectionist about this first draft than previous novel projects. Since I previously lacked time to write, my priorities about this project have shifted: I’m less concerned about making a shiny, perfect first attempt, and want to focus on just finishing a full draft. Just as an intentional break from a certain story can add needed perspective, so, too, did an accidental break from writing provide me with perspective on my needs and focus as a writer in this particular season of my life.

The second type of rest I found beneficial for my writing is simply resting from work, school, or other responsibilities in order to focus on writing. I experienced this over the past week while on break. Taking advantage of the time to write helped me rediscover my joy for the task, reaffirm my commitment to novel-writing, and generate new ideas and plot points in other works-in-progress. While these moments of rest from the normal rhythm of life don’t often come, they are wonderful when they do come around. I hope to carry that joy and passion for writing I discovered over my spring break with me into the rest of my semester.

Rest is a powerful and often overlooked tool when it comes to writing. As you experience your own spring breaks or seek to find a way to use your weekends or days off, maybe consider investing and disciplining that time into writing, going on a retreat, or reading to inspire you. Stuck on a story? Take a break from it for a month, then come back and see if you have new ideas, fresh perspective, and changed priorities. Rest seems counterintuitive in our culture of busy-ness, but more and more I am convinced that taking a break is worth it.