When I stumble on writing quotes, I sometimes shiver. The expectations are high for sure. You have to write today, tomorrow, and until the end of time. But what happens on days you’re exhausted and can’t write? You may create extraordinary and supernatural scenarios and universes but at the end of the day, you’re only human.  

I remember some time back, I always tagged my lack of productivity as Writer’s Block when in reality, it was my body’s way of protesting that I needed a break. Does this sound like you? While it’s normal to enjoy writing, have a sense of fulfilment while at it, and actively work on keeping your creativity alive, you don’t want to miss out on being human. It always backfires. This is something I’m coming to understand myself. 

I’m not the best person at relaxing because I get worried about how much I could cover in that space of time. Being a freelancer means taking responsibility for everything about my business. However, I’ve realized taking breaks when due is also a sign of growth for a writer. 

Do you never take breaks? Or do you take breaks only to find ways to make it super productive than relaxing? It’s easy to convince yourself that you do not have time to take breaks, or believe that taking breaks makes you less serious on your mission. But that’s definitely not right. 

Here are 2 reasons you need a break:   

  • Improve your overall performances:

 We all struggle with writing at some point but here’s where breaks do some magic. Research shows that taking breaks increases your focus, improves your physical and mental well being, and equips you with the strength to go above and beyond. When you’re well rested, you’re effortlessly stirring creativity to come to you. 

  • Gain better perspective:

 You’re your own biggest critics, and it’s a great attitude to posses as a writer; when you never stop looking for ways to improve your piece. However, it’s possible to get stuck or frustrated in the process. Taking a break helps you contribute more to your project either prior or future. When you detach yourself from a project, you’re sure to return with fresh insights and perspective. 

So what activities can you do during your breaks? Below are some of the best activities to engage in: 

  • Spend time with friends and family:

 Spending time with family and friends such as chatting, is one good way to spend your break. It helps you share your experiences and have a sense of belongingness. 

  • Watch a movie:

 Let movies help release some cortisol and dopamine in your brain. Movies don’t only offer you a great chance to escape but equally entertains you. Do you want to totally decompress and fill your tank up? A comedy show is even better. 

  • Practice meditation:

 Meditation is a proven method to take your mind off internal conflicts as it requires a lot of focus and awareness. Let the whispers from your multi-universes fade away here. 

  • Write letters:

 Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.’ And you’d agree that most of the time, if not all the time, you need your own space when writing. However, writing letters offers you a chance to ease the feeling of loneliness and isolation which is usually associated with anxiety, and depression. Step out of your comer and be human. Write to friends and family, and most importantly, write to yourself, to the younger, present and future you. 

  • Listen to music:

 Reward yourself with your favourite music. If you don’t have any, today’s a good day to find one. The power of music isn’t one to be underestimated. Research has shown that music helps release stress, reduce anxiety, pain and improve mood and memory. And Music also helps keep your brain engaged throughout ageing process. 

  • Sleep:

 Despite knowing the essence of good sleep, you and I are guilty of robbing ourselves of quality sleep. Then we blame it on midnight inspiration. Not once, not twice. But you can’t cheat nature and go scot-free. If you’re getting away with it just fine, you may want to consider your future. Get quality sleep, and this isn’t an activity during your break but an every day practice. 

  • Travel and explore:

This is one of my favourites. Traveling and exploring creates room for reflection, it’s that powerful. It helps tackle loneliness, helps you recharge and rejuvenate, and interestingly, discover more about yourself. So, when you’re considering taking a break, pack up your bags and get on a journey to staying inspired. Never be bored, boost your immune system and encourage good eating habits too. 

Write. Read. Study. Rest. Explore. Love. Write again. Make your life less lonely by being more human. Normalize taking a break, and carve out a space of solitude you can drift to regularly. And in the meantime, if you get an idea, jot it down. 

So when next you feel stuck, ask yourself if you need a break. I’m sure you know the answer. Take that break you deserve.

ON BREAKS: WHY YOU NEED A BREAK AS A WRITER AND SOME ACTIVITIES FOR YOU written by Moyo J. Bassey in association with Beauty & the Beast Publishing for Writer's Block. Image: Elle Hughes.

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