At this point it’s been nearly a month since my last post. There a lot of reasons for this. Some are related to work picking up. I had a business trip I went on, and new projects came out of the woodwork. Some of it was social, I started hanging out with a few high school friends, and my girlfriend left town recently, so I spent more time with her in preparation for that.
But ultimately I still had time to blog, if I had chosen to, but I didn’t. Instead I filled my evenings with fairly mindless entertainment, including tower defense games and the television show Eureka. I haven’t tried editing my novel, or put any effort into any new work. At first I felt a little guilty about this, but ultimately realized that my guilt was misplaced. I was tired, had in some ways been running myself ragged from a mental perspective. I’d been writing about 1000 words of fiction a day, plus fairly lengthy blog posts 2 to 3 times a week, plus all the effort involved in my work as a business analyst and project manager. I didn’t have a lot of mental reserves, and so when things at work picked up a bit something had to give.
When I realized this, I stopped worrying about when I was going to get back into the writing habit. And low and behold, a week later I felt the itch coming back naturally. I opened up a second novel I’d started on a while back and added a few pages. I started scribbling down some blog post ideas. And now it looks like I’ll be slowly easing back into the habit.
I think that course of events– mental exhaustion, hiatus, guilt and continued resistance to writing, escape from guilt, and then finally the return of my creative itch– is very telling, especially the last two steps. I think if I had not convinced myself to drop the guilt, I’d still be wallowing in a creative dump today. But once I stopped thinking about the issue, letting it further drain me of energy, I built up the mental reserves I needed to not only be able to, but to want to write.
I’m not fully back up to speed yet, and I still plan to ease back into things so things don’t backfire and leave me feeling uncreative again. But I will crack my novel back open again and get on with the gargantuan task of prepping it for a quest for publication. And I’ll start updating with decent regularity again too, starting by finishing up my series on user interface, and then moving onto some thoughts about information consumption and the mass media.
I think my big takeaway from this though is that I’ve got my limits, just like everyone else, and I need to be aware of them. That includes being okay when I run up against them, and not view my need for a break as a sign of weakness, or as a failure to make use of the passion for writing that God has given me. For others out there who have struggled with the same sort of issues, what are your thoughts on breaks?