Monday, September 1, 2014

Writing 101: A Day of Rest

It's Labor Day, and traditionally it's supposed to be a day of rest. Are you writing today? Do you write every day? What should you know about writing...and rest? 

No Labor Day

The first Labor Day event was a New York City parade in 1882. Union leaders wanted a "monster" labor festival on September 5, which was a Tuesday. By the end of the day, around 10,000 people had marched in the parade. The media called it a day "of the people." That's the origin of the very first Labor Day. Since then, it's become a widely-celebrated holiday in the U.S. and around the world.

So how are you celebrating it? Because there are days when you shouldn't write, despite what some others will tell you. Today may be one of those days.

Writing daily is a lovely thought, isn't it? You'll just sit in some architecturally fantastic room that has all the stuff you need in it, mostly peace and quiet, and you'll pour amazing words onto blank pages every single day until you're dishing out multiple novels a year and getting fan mail all the time and everyone loves you. But that's probably not going to happen, and I'm sorry about that. 

The reality is that there are lots of times when you're going to be staring at a blank page instead of writing on it. You won't get peace and quiet. Your room will not be perfect, or sometimes even comfortable. And there will be days when you don't even get the chance to write because there are 749 other things to do. 

So when you get a day off, or a little bit of free time, you want to fill it up with writing tasks. You need to hammer out that outline. You need to take a closer look at that great idea you jotted down, and figure out what you meant when you wrote "yojgenfar" on that napkin. You need to finish that chapter, change that scene, do that editing. 

But you also need to rest. If you work all the time and write every second and push yourself, you'll wind up pushing yourself past the breaking point. It's very easy to be idle when you're a writer, to spend too much time with your feet up on the desk and too many hours staring at the TV. But I'm one of those writers who tends to go in the other direction. I work so much, I had to put special apps on my phone so I could work while I'm doing other things around the house. I didn't get the apps for when I'm out and about, I got them so I don't have to go more than 5 minutes without getting something done. 

A lot of indie writers are that way; they haven't got a choice. When you're trying to squeeze two or three lives into one, it's going to take a helluva lotta apps to keep everything sorted out and maintain the highest possible levels of productivity. So when you have a chance to take a day of rest, take it to rest. You don't have to write all the time, and in fact you shouldn't. You'll exhaust yourself and your creativity, and you won't be putting forth your best writing.

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