This week I’ve been pushing hard toward the end of the second draft of A Theft of Magic. I turned in the draft to my editor on Wednesday and now have a few days off until she comes back with the next round of notes. It’s also the last weekend before my son goes back to school, so we’ve decided to slip away for a short trip to the beach.
I love going to the ocean. My favorite thing to do is rent a house right on the beach for at least a week, so that I can go down to the sand and the surf whenever I want. This year, my family and I can only manage a long weekend at a hotel, so I won’t have that same sense of spontaneity available, but it will be nice to be there all the same. I need some time away from my story and away from my desk to recharge my creative batteries.
This brings me around to the inverse principle of “make time to write,” which I promoted in my Making Time blog post a while back. Because, as important as it is to take a break from any job, taking a break from creative tasks is almost necessary. After a while of pouring bits of your heart and blood and soul into your art, there’s nothing left inside you.
And, at the same time, you can never really take a break from your creativity. I see it as a sort of input-output relationship. Those times you spend away from your keyboard (or easel, or dance studio, or onstage, or INSERT YOUR ART HERE), whether you’re going on a hike or relaxing with a book, are refilling your creative well.
There are also people who can’t stand the thought of not doing something with their art every day. Nora Roberts famously writes for at least several hours a day, even on vacation. And if that’s you, great! But if that’s not you, don’t worry. Find the pace and the balance that works for you, that keeps you on track with your long-term goals.
While you’re taking your breaks, don’t forget to consume your art, as well as producing it. If you’re a writer, read. If you’re a dancer, go watch other people dance. If you’re an artist, go to a gallery or browse online. If you’re a musician, listen to music. If you’re an actor, go to plays. If you make handcrafts, go to a craft show. If I haven’t mentioned your art here, you know what you do! Go look at some other people’s examples in your field.
And then go cross-pollinate yourself with all of these other art forms just to broaden your horizons.
Then get back to work and make good art!