Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sometimes a Break is Necessary

As writers, we tend to make ourselves push through the hard times. We often beat ourselves up if we're not productive enough (in our own eyes). Rather than taking a break, we push through. We tell ourselves it's a job, that we have to work the job no matter what else is happening.

I did that last year. Through surgery, diagnosis of a disorder of my central nervous system, my dad's death, experimenting with medications to treat the disorder, hours upon hours put into my day job and volunteer job, etc.


I didn't further my career during that time. I didn't make more of a name for myself. I didn't progress any further than I already had. As far as I can see, no benefit came from it.

Now that I relaxed and gave myself a smidge of time off, I'm starting to make progress. My creativity is flowing. I'm writing and submitting. I'm not pushing myself if I don't feel like writing.

None of this came from pushing through.

I say all this just to point out that sometimes maybe we really do need a break. If you're pushing yourself too hard, not feeling that creative spark, beating yourself up, not enjoying any of the process, then maybe it's time to take a period of time off.

When I say off, I mean off. Don't plan, don't outline, don't do anything you have to force yourself to do. If you get a story idea, but don't feel like writing it then, jot it down. You'll be able to revisit it after you've taken a break. Read, hike, sit on your back porch, watch TV or movies, talk to friends, play games. Take a break when your mind says it's time.

How much faster might I have hit this point if I didn't push and make myself miserable instead? Probably significantly faster.

Be sure to listen to yourself and do what you need for your own self care. Especially right now. Many of us are finding that we're struggling more than usual. People who've never experienced depression before are now dealing with it. So if you need a break, take it.

If you haven't seen it on my Facebook page, my husband and I have put in an offer on a house on 25+ acres in southern Colorado. It's a basic structure, with a cistern for water, but it's plumbed, has septic, and is set up to use a generator. We'll be putting in solar power eventually. Cross your fingers and squeeze your thumbs that it goes through for us! It's part of our dream together.

View from the front porch

Side view of the house as we approach from the drive

Wood stove inside--does it look familiar?

Media Moment


Little Creeping Things, by Chelsea Ichaso

This is a YA thriller with an unreliable narrator. Lots of twists and turns. The main character is ridiculed and avoided because of a fire she accidentally set as a child that killed her best friend at the time. But she's the last person to hear the voice of one of her bullies before that bully disappears. She figures they'll pin it on the Fire Girl if she doesn't figure out who really did it first. The book isn't perfect, but it's an engaging read that will keep you guessing.


I got on a Kathleen Turner kick for a few days, so I watched some old familiar favorites.

Random Kathleen Turner facts:

Body Heat was her first film role (she'd been in a TV show.)

During the filming of Body Heat, it was actually freezing cold, so they sprayed the actors with water to get the appearance of sweat and made them suck on ice cubes before scenes so their breath wouldn't show in the air.

Kathleen Turner was a gymnast.

During the filming of Serial Mom, she was finally announced her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which had been causing her severe chronic pain for several years. The medical treatments caused her gain weight and changed her voice, which is why she was largely absent from films and TV for a spell. She has been in remission since 2006.

Kathleen Turner taught Matthew Lillard that one of the first things you do is memorize everyone's names from the call sheets.

She's often been compared to Lauren Bacall, and introduced herself as "the younger you" when they met.

Some Writing Facts:

Michael Douglas optioned the script for Romancing the Stone from Diane Thomas, then a waitress, for $250,000. During the filming of Jewel of the Nile, she died in a car accident in the Porsche Douglas had gifted her (her boyfriend was driving).

The actress who played her sister in Romancing the Stone, Mary Ellen Trainor, was also a writer on the film.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Denver Horror Collective is seeking horror stories involving the Wendigo for Consumed, an anthology. 3000 to 12000 words. Pays $20 for the first 3000 words + 1/2 cent per word after that. Deadline August 15. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of DHC.)

The Ghastling is seeking "literary fiction and illustration devoted to psychological horror, folklore, ghost stories, and the macabre." Current anthology theme is Strange Signs/Ritual Protection Marks. Up to 3500 words. Paying magazine. Deadline August 23.

Have you ever denied yourself a break? Have you ever taken one when you felt it was necessary? Did either help you? What's your favorite Kathleen Turner movie? How are you doing right now?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Fingers crossed for your 25 acres! I'm on a land hunt too, on a smaller scale, and just lost out on a 7 acre plot. Meanwhile, my rented home has a big garden. Green views assist self care :-)

  2. Hope you get the land that you put an offer on. And I agree that sometimes it is good to take a break. Reading, watching TV, and going on walks can be inspiring and some work on our writing may be going on in our minds.

  3. Fingers crossed for the land. Looks like a fantastic spot.

    I always know when it's time for a writing break when I sit at my laptop and scroll through Facebook without any purpose. Or follow trending topics on Twitter than I'm not really bothered about. Then it's time to walk away. When I'm in full writing flow, I have to be dragged to bed at the end of the day!

  4. Hi Shannon - sure hope your property comes through - it looks idyllic ... lovely. Enjoy the break - you've had lots going on ... so relax and doing what you feel like doing. Take care - enjoy the recovery time ... and see you soon - Hilary

  5. This is spot on. I've discovered I get much more productive if I let myself rest and recharge as opposed to guilt-tripping myself into pushing through.

  6. I'm supposedly taking a break but it doesn't feel like much of one. Sigh.

    Fingers crossed for the property!

    Oh, I re-watched Romancing the Stone just the other day. :)

  7. I've done the opposite. I've opted for a break that never seemed to end. I mean it was more than 2 years before I made any steps to get back to work. I think I made the right decision, but there are moments where I still scold myself. That's bad. I love Kathleen Turner. I've seen all her films multiple times. I didn't know about her ailments. Explains a lot. Sad to see her and William Hurt age. LOL.

  8. I loved Body Heat, and Pritzi's Honor, and I love what you hope will be your new place. Very nice!