I took December off. Here’s how it improved my writing.

Today’s beautiful artwork is by Skywalter. Check him out here.

December is usually a constant juggling act. The holidays bring with family obligations, along with the crippling need to feel like we’re doing something festive. And despite all of that, work doesn’t feel the need to slow down all that much. 

So, to take some pressure off of myself, I decided to take December off from writing. 

This took some doing. I had to write and schedule blog posts and reviews for both PBW and Haunted. But after I got those wrapped up, I was free to pursue whatever I wanted to pursue through the rest of the month. 

This may sound indulgent, and in a way it was. But it was also something I feel like I needed to do to be a better artist. And I wasn’t wrong. 

Here are five ways taking a month off made me a better writer.

Rest is always a good idea

This can be hard for me in my little go get ‘em brain. But taking breaks is essential, even in creative endeavors. 

Yes, writing is my life. But when writing is also my job, that puts on pressure to perform at a certain level. A level that I can’t always maintain. 

But when I allow myself to rest, I can reach that higher level more frequently. 

Time to read

Stephen King famously said that to be a good writer you need to do two things. Read a lot and write a lot. 

Alright, cool. Way easier said than done. Usually, if I get twenty minutes in a day to read, I’m doing pretty good.

But when I take writing off my to-do list, then that opens up time to read. And I read a ton in December. Mostly holiday books. I just filled my mind with the works of other authors. And that’s exactly what I needed

Time to write for fun

I’ve talked before about the importance of writing for yourself. Writing not to produce, or to share with the outside world. Just writing for you. And while it’s great, it’s another thing that takes a backseat to writing as a job. It was nice to just sit at my desk and write with no pressure, no plans for what I was going to do with this piece. Just have fun on the page.

As a bonus, this is something I’m trying to encourage more of when I’m writing a rough draft. Both for my own joy, and to increase the quality of my work. It was great to practice that for a whole month. 

Time to experience life

We are not unending wells. We cannot keep putting out work and words if we do not take something in. 

We take things in by experiencing our lives. And the holidays are the perfect time to do that. Try new things, go on fun outings, celebrate with your loved ones. All of these experiences feed into your writing because they expand your experiences. 

Time to learn 

Finally, I was able to take some of my downtime and focus on learning. There are lots of things I want to learn, that I often have a hard time finding the time for. So having this extra time to spend on Spanish, tarot cards and writing studies was a Godsend. I hope I can keep up with these studies as I’m getting back into the flow of writing this month. To be honest, it’s been a struggle so far. But I think I can do it.

All that being said, I likely won’t take a whole month off in 2022. I’ll probably take two weeks, though. And likely a few weeks off in the Summer. 

Spending time away from your work just makes you stronger when you return to the page. Don’t be afraid to take that time. 

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