Monday, July 18, 2011

Three Tip Monday - Rest and Relaxation

This past weekend my agent, Rachelle Gardner, posted about taking a day off to rest and rejuvenate. You can read that post HERE. She asked several questions, but the main idea was do you take a work-Sabbath?

Reading through the comments, I see she got a variety of responses, everything from folks taking a weeklyHammockphoto © 2005 Jeff Kramer | more info (via: Wylio)
Sabbath away from everything except church and family to some folks who never take a day off at all. Some said they take mini-breaks throughout the day, and others said they need several days off in a row to really get rested up.

Often, as writers, our creative batteries can run flat. Writing a novel is no afternoon project. It's prolonged effort over weeks and months. And if you're anything like me, your novel-writing lamp never really goes off. Even when I'm away from my laptop, I'm thinking about and planning my next scene, next chapter, next book, next proposal. I even dream about my stories.

So how are we, as novelists on the long journey of writing, supposed to recharge those creative batteries?

Here are three tips I've found that help me.

1. Do something creative that isn't writing-related. I've found that accomplishing something creative that has nothing to do with writing often refreshes me and unclogs a sticky point in my writing. For me this might mean crocheting on a baby blanket, sewing quilted pot-holders, or making baklava. (More on these last two pursuits in another blog post.) For you it might mean painting a mural, taking photographs, or designing a house. Find some crafty, hands-on thing, and let your mind and body be creative in a whole new way. It might be just the jump-start you need.

2. Re-read or re-watch an old favorite. I'm definitely a re-reader and re-watcher when it comes to movies. And I have a few 'go-to' favorites when I need a pick-me-up. Longshot or To The Hilt by Dick Francis, anything by Essie Summers, or even one of the Little House books. Re-reading a favorite story is like a long visit with an old friend. My go-to movies...Open Range, El Dorado, While You Were Sleeping, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium...and a bunch a favorite movie lets me enjoy a story without the demands of "whodunnit" or "what's going to happen next?" I just get to enjoy the story, and if I get interrupted, no big deal.

3. Date Night. Every Friday evening, my honey and I go out, sans kids, and have dinner together. We talk and talk and talk, sometimes about the writing, and always about us and our kids and our church and our extended families and the news and sports and politics and the family business and a zillion other things. This time is so precious to me. We instituted date night a few years ago (once our kids were old enough to be left without a baby-sitter) and I have never regretted it. I LOVE date night with my husband. If you can't make date night a weekly occurrance, try for once a month, or schedule it for in house after the kids are asleep. Have Dominoes deliver so you don't have to cook, turn off the tv, the laptop, the phone, and just enjoy talking to an adult.

So, how do you recharge those batteries? Have you found anything that really picks you up when you're feeling creatively dry?

And the winner of Cara Putman's Canteen Dreams is.... Beth Steury. Beth, please contact me at ericavetsch at gmail dot com and I'll get your info forwarded to Cara.


  1. Yeah, I'm afraid I definitely don't have a problem taking time off. My family has Friday Pizza and Game or Movie night every week. And I usually take Sunday's off from writing, blogging, twittering. I try to simply read or watch movies with my family on Sundays. Unless of course I'm at the soccer field all afternoon - like yesterday.

  2. Sorry, but I had to chuckle when I saw the picture of the hammock juxtaposed to the concept of rest and relaxation. I've never been able to relax in one of those things. First of all, just getting in one without being flipped around six ways from Sunday is anything but relaxing. Then, even if I manage to not permanently maim myself and get in the blasted thing, I can't relax because it feels like if I breathe just a slight bit more out of my right nostril than my left, I'm going for another spin.

  3. Definitely two and three...I'm working on number one. I just have to buy some paint!

  4. For some reason painting works like a charm. Painting anything. And running helps as well as reading and eating and thinking and being outside. See how I've had to tap into these ideas? :D

    Just spent some time away. I still got some work done, but not as much as I liked. I wasn't quite feeling myself while away though. I'm back now and my husband and I joked, I'm feeling a little better than average, expecting to feel back and better than ever in a few days. ;)

    ~ Wendy

  5. I do all 3! I love to paint and refurbish furniture, but I must admit I still think about upcoming scenes, but it's relaxing and fun.

    Like Heather, I take Sundays off. I mean what's Sunday afternoon without a 2-3 hour nap? :)

  6. Watching old movies and sewing does it for me. Oh, and baking. Still working on a consistent date night. Most of our babysitters (family members) have moved away.

  7. I see what you meant about us being of a like mind today. But that's a summertime trend... taking advantage of a slower season for much needed refreshment breaks.

    Taking time away to appreciate nature without the usual routines, telephones and other home and work interruptions helps recharge me. A camp chair and good book, a stroll with my camera, or contemplative moments beside the ocean, lake or river, all let me unwind and help quench my parched places. DH and I just returned from four days away in the RV, finding quiet places to explore. I hope you get lots of similar opportunities as the summer progresses.

  8. My husband and I have talked about date night for years! I'm still hoping it happens, lol! And thank you for your very wise comment on my blog. I needed to hear that. =)