The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of writing activity for me. Having my life more or less canceled meant that I suddenly had lots more time to work on my writing. I finished up the first draft of a new YA novel, followed by taking an intensive three-week online writing class taught by Simon Wood which involved planning out the entire plot scene-by-scene of a new novel.
I’d begun to feel a little judgmental about writers telling me they didn’t feel “up to” writing during this awful pandemic and were spending their days on Netflix. How could they squander this golden opportunity to dig into their work?
And then, yesterday, I absolutely crashed. After several weeks of taking no days away from my computer, I didn’t feel up to writing one more word, tackling one more project, or doing one more constructive thing. I slunk down to the basement and watched an old (and dark) movie, Autumn Leaves, starring Joan Crawford.
It’s always humbling to realize that I am every bit as prone to fallow periods and burnout as anyone else, and I need to do a lot less judging—of others and myself. Sometimes we really do need to give ourselves permission to be couch potatoes—to rest and refuel. Moreover, consistent with research indicating that taking breaks can actually boost creativity, I’ve found that when I don’t force myself to work, ideas pop up of their own accord.
So, my new resolution is to be kinder to myself as a writer, and kinder to others who are also struggling to do creative work in these unprecedented times. It’s okay to take breaks—they may even help!