Occasionally you’ll see advice out there that writers have to keep to a schedule, have to write X words a day, have to write every single day because that’s what it means to be a writer. That’s what writers do. You’re always supposed to power through, always keep moving, always push push push.
I’m sure this works for some writers. I am not one of them.
Not only do I simply not have time to write every day, I wouldn’t even if I could. I can’t write every day. I can barely write two days in a row.
Writing is tiring, it’s hard, and it’s easy to get burned out. After full a day of writing I feel physically and emotionally drained. It takes immense concentration. Coming up with new ideas is hard work. And blocking out all distractions takes willpower.
But it’s not just that. I need time to be distracted.
Distractions, the good kind, can come in many forms. They can be a friend who calls spontaneously one afternoon, a walk through the park that beautiful weather demands, a trip to a museum, or just a day doing absolutely nothing.
Sometimes you need to recharge. Sometimes you need to be inspired. Sometimes you need to just let yourself experience life.
I feel like as a writer it’s so important to listen to yourself. Don’t listen to the lazy you, the one who never wants to get anything done. But do listen to the Writer inside you (capital ‘W’), who writes because life is so interesting and amazing.
You can’t write if you don’t live. You can’t write good books if you’re a writing machine who doesn’t take time to live life fully outside of your work.
Some of the best inspiration comes precisely while you’re distracted, while you’re actively not thinking about writing and just noticing life.
Let yourself be distracted. It can be your most productive time.
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Art: “Am Waldrand” – Henri Rousseau