Arguably, the most important thing to get right about writing is actually sitting down and doing it. I’ve commented before on where to find time, and how to build up the discipline to use that time well when it arrives.
Know what’s just as important, but isn’t mentioned nearly as often? You need a damn break once in a while. You need to get away and think about anything but writing. Let ideas meld and play around in your subconscious, without you worrying about them. When you allow this to happen, it often helps you come up with better ideas and get around blocks.
When you have a full-time job or other regular responsibilities (ex. school, parenting), you probably don’t have any trouble getting away from writing. What if it’s your full-time job, though? Now you may have some trouble figuring it out. At what point have you written “enough” for one day? Should your break be strictly scheduled, or on an as-needed basis?
When you have a strong work ethic, it can also be tough to take your break and not feel like you should be writing the whole time. Then you stew over writing the parts you’re worried about, which isn’t the point at all. The point is to get away completely for a while, not to heap guilt upon yourself!
I’ve talked about allowing break time before, but not so much about making it mandatory– and that’s really where a full-time writer should be going. You need time away to be a full person. If you have trouble granting it to yourself without feeling guilty, like I do, you may want to consider the strategy I’m about to lay out here…
We each have periods of the day when we feel “on,” ready to tackle anything. For me, that period is from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM- provided I get my coffee. During this time of day, I think clearest and act swiftest. It totally makes sense for me to devote it to writing- with breaks every hour or so to get up, stretch, mess around on the Internet.
Since that’s my best time of day, if I manage to write for that whole period, I can consider myself DONE. Job complete. No guilt. If I want to do more, and manage to write during other times of the day, great! That’s BONUS.
We also have times of day when we’re at our worst, energy-wise. For me, that’s usually between 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, and after sundown (which varies throughout the year). It makes sense to break during those hours, guilt-free.
We all have these natural highs and lows. If you’re lucky enough to be able to devote your best hours to writing, go for it! Then cut yourself loose after a job well done.