Sometimes as writers, we feel guilty if we’re not producing a certain number of words a day. It’s so easy to fall into the routine of writing, writing, writing, that we almost get too close to our work, adopting troubling “tunnel vision” and depleting our energies.
Every once in a while, it’s important to step away from the usual writing routine; changing gears can give your brain a rest, allow ideas to germinate, and encourage the “writer’s mind” to recharge.
Here are 5 non-writing activities that may actually benefit your writing:
1. If you like to draw…try Zentangles.
Have you heard of “Zentangles”? I’ve just learned how to draw these small, intricate art forms, which require a great deal of focus. It may sound intimidating to do, but the result is very relaxing. Just accomplishing one forces me to pay attention to such tiny details that I can’t think about anything else, much less any writing projects that are jamming my brain.
If you’re not a fan of Zentangles, try doodling, filling in a page of a coloring book, or drawing your favorite pet.
2. If you love physical exercise…try a new workout.
When we write, our bodies become stagnant. Exercise helps increase your circulation and refuel your energy. And, trying a completely new workout routine during your writing break is a great way to take your mind off your work as you focus on learning the new physical task.
If you’re not a fan of tackling something completely different in your exercise routine, simply taking a break for some physical act like walking the dog, strolling around a new neighborhood, or taking half an hour to stretch can be enough to revitalize your mind and body. It’s all about getting that blood flowing.
3. If you play music…try a complex new concerto.
Diving into an intricate creative task is a fantastic way to jog your artistic right brain, especially if you feel locked up into a regimented writing routine. Plus, a particularly challenging feat will force you to go beyond your comfort zone, which is key for any writer. Perhaps that can translate to going beyond the comfort zone of your own writing.
If you don’t play a musical instrument, try tackling a new recipe. Following directions makes you think about each step of the recipe, and how one connects to the next, and to your dish as a whole. This may help you see how one idea in your writing connects to the next and fits in with the whole.
4. If you enjoy socializing…go out with friends.
Writing can be such a lonely task: most of the time, it’s just you and your words on a page. Therefore, it’s crucial to escape into an environment with real people acting in real ways — which may also give you ideas for dialogue, character traits, and character relationships.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, go see a movie or a play. Choose a genre worlds away from whatever you’re writing about at the moment. The escape may be just what you needed to refresh your mind
5. If you crave relaxation…go to a spa.
As writers, we don’t always treat ourselves well. We write in our pajamas. We forget to shower. We eat junk food because we don’t want to take a break to cook a meal. The physical act of writing can take a toll, causing cramps or stiffness. Show yourself some kindness and get a facial or a massage. Get your nails done. A more relaxed body and mind can translate to better writing.
If you’re not a fan of the spa or salons, take a nature walk, have a bubble bath, or meditate. Whatever you decide, commit yourself to finding tranquility, even for a few minutes.
Next time you feel like you’ve reached your writing limits for the day, remember how important it is to take a break. You might find that your writing will flow easier and you’ll generate ideas and connections you might never have thought of when you were hunched over that hot computer.
How do you recharge? Share your ideas below.