1. You aren’t going to want to listen to this advice. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid of losing your momentum, or that you will never start again once you stop. Whatever your reason, know this: There are no true rewards for pushing yourself so hard you break. No one who wants you to succeed wants to see you broken.
2. A break doesn’t have to last long. It can be an hour, an afternoon, a day. Sometimes people take weekends off, or the occasional Sunday. Sometimes week long vacations suffice. The length of your break is really up to you, and really depends on what you prefer, what you can afford, and what you can personally handle.
3. You should take a break even if you don’t feel like you “need” to take a break. If we are talking about burnout here, the most dangerous part about the condition for creators is that you often do not notice it is happening to you until it’s too late.
4. A “break” doesn’t have to mean lounging around on the couch eating potato chips and watching everything possible on Disney+ — though, of course, it certainly can. A break can mean you go off and do something else creative, like drawing, which still uses brain power but not in the exact same way as writing.
5. You are a human being, and every human being has limits. While you should aim high and try to do the best you can as often as you can, this does not make you a superhuman. Even the most successful and productive writers need to take a step back and give themselves some room to recover.
6. Taking a break and “doing something other than writing when you should be writing” are not the same thing. Every writer needs legitimate time off during which they are not allowed to feel guilty for not writing. Some people call this a vacation!
7. Yes, you can “afford” to take a break. We live in a world where creators are told they can’t stop putting things out there or they will lose their audience instantly. That’s not really how it works … as long as your break doesn’t last, oh I don’t know, months. Years. Decades.
8. The benefits of taking a break far outweigh the cons. Breaks “disrupt your flow” and it is often harder to get back into that flow when you step out of it even for a short time. But if you time it right, a break can both motivate and inspire you, and you just might return to your work feeling refreshed and ready to go unlike before.
9. Let’s talk about emotional health for a second. Many writers cover material that is “emotionally heavy.” I, for example, write stories that tend to be a little darker and sad, but they deal with complex emotions people can relate to. Writing that stuff is hard. You need to walk away every once in a while and do something fun.
10. You deserve a break. It doesn’t matter how “productive” you have or haven’t been lately. You have been doing the best that you possibly could and yes, you deserve to rest. Even if you don’t think you do.
11. Writing is mentally exhausting, and if you are constantly doing it, over time your work is going to lose its quality and you are going to lose your spark. Breaks are good for mental and emotional health, and in the long term, they will help you do better work for longer periods of time.
12. What you don’t hear nearly as much — but is still totally true — is that writing, in a way, is also physically draining. Your body runs on energy just like your brain, and the more you work, the more you drain your energy reserves. You need some quality time to relax and sleep and let yourself physically recharge.
13. We need to break away from the rhetoric that people who work all day every day are somehow superior to people who do not. These people might look like they have it all together, and yes, they may have great successes to show for it. But you don’t know everything that’s going on. It’s not a healthy way to live.
14. No one who matters is going to praise you for working nonstop without breaks, and if they do, consider whether or not their praise is actually valid. People who care about you want you to take the time to care for yourself. Your audience will understand. Your readers will understand. Set a good example. Take a break. Please.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.