We are writers. That means we’re determined, stubborn, and often living in our imagination. When we have a story idea, we go for it wholeheartedly. When we’re not plotting or writing, we’re daydreaming about upcoming scenes in our current WIP.
Being a writer can very easily be life-consuming—and by that I mean it doesn’t just take up a lot of your time, but almost every thought you have. This is a dangerous thing for one all-encompassing reason: you are a human being first, not a writer first.
And yet, many guides on how to write a book will tell you that your book must completely take over your mind. I propose a different way to write: recognising the importance of rest.
One of the most crucial things to remember about life in general is that there must be a balance. As the book of Ecclesiastes says (the book of wisdom in the Bible): “Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
There’s no doubt whatsoever that living a life that is balanced rather than a life of extremes will benefit you most—and more importantly, it will benefit those around you as well. Even something that is inherently good can become not so good when used in excess, and that’s how it can be with writing as well.
A passion for writing is a fantastic thing! However, while being a writer may be part of who you are, it shouldn’t be your complete identity. Writing is fickle, right? There are bad days when you have writer’s block. There are days you’ll get a bad review or have to rewrite everything you wrote the day before. If you place your entire identity in that constantly shifting world, it’s not a fun way to live.
This is why rest is crucial. We may be writers, but we’re not invincible. Our brains need a break, not to mention our cramped fingers. We need time outside of being writers to maintain that balance of life and explore the parts of who we are that aren’t related to writing. Constantly writing, planning, and plotting can’t be sustained forever. The truth is that no matter how strong you are, one day you’ll get burnt out.
That’s why it’s important to plan your rest time and make it consistent if you can. In my case, I take weekends off from writing and do other things I enjoy: reading, sketching, crafting, exploring, playing music, spending time with family, or any number of other things. When I come back to my writing on Monday, I approach everything with a fresh, rested mind.
So yes, I not only believe that rest is crucial for writers, but I also believe that it helps us to write. When I hit a wall with something I’m writing, the first thing I do is rest. I leave it for a day or two and push it out of my mind. When I come back to it, I almost always come up with a solution right away.
Plan your rest. Find other things you enjoy doing. Spend time with the people you love. Just because we’re writers doesn’t mean we don’t have a life; in fact, we should appreciate life that much more.