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When You Don’t Feel Like Writing, Do You Take a Break or Keep Working?

I write every day, which means I make time to write every day.

And there’s a moment I frequently reach during my writing sessions when I start to feel a bit tired. I have a decision to make:

Do I take a break or keep working?

If you want to position yourself to do your best work, it’s an important assessment. Sometimes a break is necessary, especially in between writing and editing. It could be a short one for food or fresh air, or you could need a day or more to clarify a concept.

The length of your break will also often depend on your schedule and commitments. Doing something other than what you’re supposed to be doing is part of being a writer. Just don’t miss your deadline.

Hold ’em or fold ’em?

Whether it’s a self-directed writing project or an assignment from a supervisor or client, writing requires discipline.

Taking a break will always sound appealing, but you’ll never build a solid writing portfolio if you continually opt for doing something else instead of focusing on your content.

On the other hand, when you return to your writing with fresh eyes after doing something else, you’ll often have a creativity boost that enables a level of richness, depth, and nuance you didn’t yet have access to during your original writing session.

So, how do you determine if you should keep polishing your ideas or take a break to rest and clear your mind?

Enter: The Lazy Test

Since I regularly encounter this scenario, I’ve come up with a quick test that helps me choose the right path. 

Ask yourself:

Is your creative energy truly drained or are you just feeling lazy?

If I think I’m feeling lazy (honesty is required here), I keep writing … but the test isn’t finished.

I’ll give myself another 20 minutes to work on my current task. That’s a fair amount of time to refocus and gain momentum.

If I was indeed just feeling lazy, I’ll perk up and typically continue working another one to two hours.

If I can’t get back into a groove after 20 minutes, I know it’s time to take a break or do other work before I return to that writing project.

Over to you …

We all have to develop habits that optimize our productivity.

How do you manage your creative work? What keeps you going when you don’t feel like writing? Are breaks beneficial or distracting?

Share your experiences in the comments below.