Back when I first started writing for a living, I was a binge writer. I would settle down at my desk and not come up for air for three days or more. Then came the inevitable crash.
Once I began working for hire in Hollywood, I found out real quick that this method didn’t work. Producers paid you big bucks to deliver quickly and on time. Writing for Hollywood was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It gave me discipline and persistence. And, above all, it taught me the value of meeting deadlines. Hey, you didn’t get those paychecks unless you delivered.
Now that I’m older (and hopefully, wiser) I have discovered that a lot of writing occurs when I’m not writing.
Saxon and I write at least three hours every morning. Sure, we could do more, but we both feel it’s important that we don’t. Our creativity is essential to our business. And creativity occurs in the pauses. It happens when I’m standing in line at the grocery store, folding laundry, cooking supper, showering. . . it’s fine to be typing away on a story, but one shouldn’t neglect the brain’s need to re-charge. The brain comes up with the best ideas when it seems like it’s just being lazy.
The problem with a lot of newbie writers is that they don’t know this. They think they can just write, write, write all day, all week long. Yeah, sure, you can do that for awhile. But burnout is going to happen. And it’s going to happen hard.
The way to be successful over the long haul is to let your brain work in the pauses. It’s the difference between sprinting and running a marathon. I’ve made a living as a writer for thirty years now, believe you me, I know all about marathons and how to pace myself.
About those pauses: You can’t be doing the technology thing in the pauses. Today, a lot of people don’t daydream. They don’t fantasize. Every time there’s a pause in their life, they jam Facebook or Twitter in there. Their brain is being constantly bombarded by technology. The best thing you can do for your brain is to let it rest. That’s where creativity comes from—the pauses.
So, the next time you feel like your brain is fried, try going for a walk (without headphones and without your phone.) Or get a hobby that keeps your body busy, but lets your mind rest. Know that your brain is busy working even if you’re not.
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