The Pros and Cons of Taking Time Off Between Writing Projects
Updated: Aug 18
I suppose a big question for many writers would be, “Is it good to take a hiatus from writing?” If you are a writer and sitting on the fence with this decision like a humpy-dumpty about to take a great fall, I would like to share my experience after taking a six-year break.
Just to clarify, my break was not so much out of necessity but opportunity. My alter ego is very passionate about corporate event planning, and an amazing job fell into my lap until Covid hit and canceled all live events and my position. My writing at the time had been on a roll. I had just completed two works of fiction, the fourth book in my Chupacabra Series and a novella that had been a work-in-progress for nearly 20 years. I was not experiencing burnout or writer’s block. The ideas were plenty. But the opportunity was too good to pass up, and I have no regrets.
Now, let’s talk about us as writers. Being an author, we are undoubtedly familiar with the exhilarating highs and challenging lows of the creative process. It is both a rewarding and exhausting experience: the demand, the goals, the accomplishments, the criticism, the marketing, etc. Some might say that taking some time off can be a crucial aspect of this journey. Here are my aforementioned experiences that I would like to share as tips in the format of Pros and Cons:
1. **Enhanced Creativity and Inspiration:**
Taking time off between writing projects allowed my mind to wander and explore. Engaging in activities and meeting many new people sparked fresh ideas and unique perspectives, enriching my creativity and inspiring new narratives.
2. **Restored Mental and Emotional Well-Being:**
As mentioned, I did not experience burnout, but stepping back from writing did give me a chance to rest and recharge, which I did not know I needed at the time. Once I returned to the writing desk, I did feel that I had a clear mind and renewed enthusiasm.
3. **Balanced Engagement with Other Passions:**
I am also a geek at heart. Movies, TV shows, books, and video games are all passions of mine (sports, not so much). Because my break involved extended working hours, I did not see an opportunity to even dabble in writing during the off hours. I needed a mind break during those times. A hiatus not only provided time for my favorite leisure activities but also broadened my creative influences. These diverse sources of inspiration can elevate the richness of your narratives.
1. **Disruption of Writing Flow:**
This was my biggest challenge when returning. Pausing in the middle of a seven-book series felt as though I had interrupted the natural flow of the series and my writing routine. It has taken some time to regain my momentum and immerse myself back into that world.
2. **Potential for Procrastination:**
Oh, yeah. Even as I write this blog, I am technically procrastinating. Before "the blip," I didn’t do too much blog writing or cover redesigns, or new marketing on old titles. Even when Covid hit, and I had more time to write (I even announced it on Facebook), procrastination set in, and my focus was pulled in multiple directions consistently. And if you’re anything like me, procrastination leads to guilt which leads to frustration which leads to self-doubt, which can develop into writer’s block. Thankfully, I do feel like I finally leaped over that hurdle.
3. **Missed Opportunities for Continuous Promotion:**
Consistent releases can help maintain reader interest and engagement. The long nap between projects did result in a lot of missed opportunities to promote and market my work effectively. I even missed a request from a student who wanted some extra insights on one of my books for his schoolbook report. I felt so, so bad for not replying back in time.
Taking time off between writing projects is a decision that requires careful consideration of the pros and cons. The above were mine; yours will be unique to you. While breaks can revitalize your creativity, nurture your well-being, and enrich your storytelling, they also come with challenges, such as potential disruptions to your writing flow, marketing momentum, and extended completion timelines. As you continue on your journey as an author, finding the right balance between embracing breaks and maintaining a consistent writing rhythm will be key to achieving your goals and creating captivating literary worlds that resonate with your readers.