Recently, during a group exercise class at my gym, our instructor introduced the concept of ‘active resting’. Unfortunately, she introduced this in between two particular difficult Tabata sets. Instead of just standing there trying to catch our breath for twenty seconds before the next set, we were supposed to hold a deep squat. Jaw dropping, I couldn’t get over how crazy this woman was. But I did the squat, walked away from the class after it ended – feeling proud, and woke up the next morning very sore.
It wasn’t until several months later, when I was in between writing two difficult book series, that I decided to take a short break from the craft. It wasn’t long until the usual guilt trip ensued, followed by a sense of slight panic then depression because if I wasn’t being productive, I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I know the cycle – I’ve lived it several times over. And I know I will eventually sit back down at the computer, more mentally exhausted than before I decided to take my writing break.
So – how to break the cycle? Active resting, of course! Here are some ideas of what active resting for writers might look like:
1) Keep the creative juices flowing. Pick up another craft. Photography, knitting, and playing the piano are some of my choices. Painting, pottery, heck – even coloring (they have some amazing adult coloring books now). Besides, mundane activities are well known producers of inspirational thoughts. The idea for your next great book may be hidden inside a blank coloring page!
2) Read, read, read. Chances are that your love of writing follows on the heels of your love of reading. How do you think you learned to be such a great writer in the first place? Get back to the basics. Pick a book in your genre, then expand out. Write reviews, post them on Goodreads, and use the opportunity to connect with your fans on another level.
3) Step away from your current project to write in other areas. But keep it short – blog posts, reviews on another books, outline potential ideas, and maybe even a short story or two. Experiment and have fun with this! Try writing in another genre, or in another POV, just to see what it is like.
4) Concentrate on advertising. Whether you are traditionally published, self-published, or a hybrid, outreach is important. Stay creative by putting together bookmarks, posters, or other images relating to your book. Do a blog tour. Research other advertising opportunities.
5) Don’t forget, it is okay to step away from the craft altogether. Vacations are important – no matter what career field you are in! Take time for you, and be attentive to other aspects of your life. This can only help your writing in the long run.
Have any other thoughts or ideas on active resting? Comment below and let us know!
Terra was born and raised in Colorado but has since lived in California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina and Virginia. Terra has served a 5½ year enlistment in the Marine Corp, has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree and presently runs the language services division of a small business.
Terra currently lives in a suburb of Washington, DC with her husband of sixteen years and three children.