I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, December 7, 2012

Taking a Break from Writing

By Jennie Atkins
Christmas for me has always included a host of homemade gifts.  I like to do crafty things, so the days and weeks before the holidays, I’m usually busy making homemade gifts.
This year was no different.  I made two quilts, two fleece no-sew blankets, half dozen reversible table runners and knitted four scarves.  I’ve spent the last month and a half pumping out gifts rather than adding words to my manuscript.  I’ve heard it said a writer should write every day. Most of the year I do, but I had reached a brick wall mentally.  I found I was unable to put more than two coherent sentences together at any given time. Not good when I want my writing to be fresh.

It was time for a break. 
Each time I wanted to sit down at the computer, I resisted the temptation. I resisted the urge to mentally walk through a scene in preparation for when I would allow myself the privilege of writing again.  Why?  Because I’d been on overload, trying to push out my next story.

What I did allow myself to do, now that I wasn’t butt-in-chair-fingers-glued-to-the-keyboard, was to look up and see what I’d been missing.  I read articles on the internet creating a backlog of ideas to fuel my next stories.  I watched people, made mental notes of how they acted or things they told me.  I even watched some of my favorite movies, trying to figure out just what makes them so irresistible to me.  I jotted all the new ideas down along with those story ideas that had lain dormant in my brain because my focus centered on my next manuscript. 
  1. So I started a list of things I could do that would help my writing in the long run.
  2. Watch an old movie.
  3. Call a friend and talk about the crazy things that happened to them growing up.
  4. Read an issue of a magazine I don’t normally read.
  5. Go for a long walk.
  6. People watch at the mall.
  7. Make lists of things I found funny during the week.
  8. Jot down the things I heard on the news that I could use in an upcoming story.
  9. Take a long, hot bath.

Those are just a few. 
Now it’s your turn to add to my list.  When you can’t write another word…what do you like to do?


  1. Thanks for this, Jennie. So constructive. I completed MBT Wrimo but am not sure I will again (or maybe the challenge, but not so many words) as it really took the stuffin' out of me. Am using these days to regroup, counter-attack with fresh insights, and ready for Christmas. I love how many hands-on, love-filled crafty gifts you've made. But then you are a gift. Thanks again and many blessings.

  2. Jennie,

    Great ideas to rejuvenate your mind so that when you come back to your computer, you'll be more prepared to write.

    When I can't think of another word to write, I like to do things with my family--playing games, snuggling next to my husband watching TV, or going to an activity at our kids' school. In other words, to be normal without feeling I "should" be writing.

  3. I love your ideas! I'm mostly wishing I could get back into writing!

  4. Jennie, you are truly a multi-faceted lady. I loved reading all the gifts you've created. I agree with Dee, you ARE a gift. I'm so glad I met you this year.

    Let's see, sometimes when I can't write, I focus on the undone things around the house. There are plenty right now. :) I'm also giving myself the space to get the house in order and prepare for Christmas. I also enjoy spending time with my family playing games, watching a movie, just being together.

    I think I'm going to take some of your ideas. I like your list. :)

  5. Jennie, your talents are many! I am not crafty, so I soooo admire women who are. :)

    When I can't write, I'm all about the old movies. I just never get tired of Cary Grant. And the dialogue in some of those movies--His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby--so good. It's a great way, I think, to get my brain in writing mode even if I can't actually write.

  6. Jennie, you are a treasure! Love this post since I thought I was the only one who reached the place where they can't write one more word. When that happens, I like to work with clay, get my hands dirty, create something different. Oh, and I like to read. Great post!

  7. Hi Jennie,
    I finished Wrimo and wrote notes for scenes to back and check on, but I haven't touched it all week. I had work obligations but I'm okay with it. Interestingly enough, I've just wanted to spend time with my kids, play cards, watch movies. I haven't felt guilty at all. But come Saturday, I will get back on my goal plan :0). Thank you for sharing!

  8. Dee,
    Wrimo is a challenge. I honestly don't know if I could do it because I need to really think about a scene before I write it. Maybe next year!

  9. Roxanne,
    I agree that sometimes we need to back away. Sometimes I'm so driven to get more words on the paper that I forget that.

  10. Teri,
    You will one day. Don't ever give up on your dreams!

  11. Jeanne,
    Cleaning can be cleansing. Before my hubby and I moved to Nevada, we went through our huge house and got rid of so much stuff. And to think I spent good money on it and haven't missed any of it since!

  12. Melissa,,
    I LOVE Cary Grant. Did you know he was once a mime? If you watch his actions you can pick it up. My favorites are Operation Petticoat and Father Goose. They're timeless.

  13. Pat, You are not alone by any means. Some people babble when they talk...I babble when I write...and that's when I know I need to stop! LOL

  14. Alena, Enjoy the time with your kids...they grow up too fast.

  15. Jennie, I'm late in replying, but I love the crafty side of you!! I didn't realize you sewed too. You offered a great list of ideas. We go through different seasons in our writing where we do need mental breaks. For me, crafting is mental therapy--card making, knitting, crocheting