The Power of Stopping

serenity 1

I’m on a break.

I love being able to say that. I’ve mentioned before how I have spent the last, probably five years, writing non-stop. Even on vacations at the cottage in the summer, while my husband and stepson were down at the beach, I was slogging away in the bedroom under one deadline or another. Frazzled and tired and a bit bitter that I couldn’t go out, then resenting the time away from my writing when I did because I knew I would then have to work double-time when I came back to it. I love to write. I don’t know how not to write. It’s like breathing to me. But over the past year and a half my breathing has become laboured. The love of it had slipped away and it had become a job. More work, less joy.

When I reached the 9th and last book in the series I was working on, I could see the end in sight, yet I was so exhausted, so mentally spent, I had nothing to give. I couldn’t focus. I was all over the place. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story or the characters or the premise. I did. I wouldn’t have written it otherwise. But getting it down on paper proved a chore in itself. My deadline was last Sunday. I made it, but likely just dumped a P.O.S. on my editor’s desk. This isn’t the first time I’ve handed her a manuscript that was in less than stellar shape, but it was the first time I did it with such glee. Because, well…

I’m on a break.

For two whole weeks I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to (well, except the day job, because…you know – bills). I can’t remember the last time that’s happened for that length of time. Usually at this point in the process, I hand the draft off to my editor and immediately jump in to plotting and outlining the next book in the series to get that done before the revisions on the current book come back. But not this time.

I’m on a break.

The idea I don’t actually have to do anything is a bit staggering. Except, that I have been doing something. Lots of things. I’ve been knitting. I’ve been exploring hand-dyeing yarn. I slept in the other day. I slept like a baby. I’ve made some new friends who share some mutual interests. I’m in a better mood. I’ve immersed myself in video podcasts on YouTube. I’ve been looking into what it takes to do my own podcast. I’ve been learning how to edit on iMovie.

I’ve basically been having a grand ole time spreading my wings creatively in areas previously neglected. Filling the well and taking time to breathe. It’s amazing how I forgot what this feels like. It’s as if the clouds have parted and the sunlight found a way through the murk.

The past year has been a learning experience for me. I’ve learned something you love can become something you dread if you don’t treat it, and yourself, properly and with respect. I have rediscovered the joy of doing nothing and in that found everything. I’ve remembered that in order to be creative, you have to give yourself space. Time to breathe. Time to be.

You need to look up. And you need to take a break.

And so, I’m on a break. And it’s lovely.



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