I Need a Break

This is something I don’t talk about normally. At least, not to people other than those in my inner circle. But I think it’s necessary to talk about the bad stuff as it is to celebrate the good stuff.

I think I need a break – from work, from writing – at least for a while. Like, step away completely for a week or so.

I feel like I haven’t caught a breath since April, when my dad was hospitalised for a bleeding tumour in his brain. Since then, I’ve just been taking care of him while trying to hit word count on the manuscript every single day. On top of the day job. On top of exercising twice a day. On top of recovering from my own partial thyroidectomy.

I don’t know why I do this to myself. It sounds almost like I’m punishing myself sometimes – that I need to exercise to “work off” my lunch (the only proper meal I have in a day), to write at least 500 words every day after getting home from the day job before going to bed and at least 1,000 words on weekends (free time? what free time?), that I need to get the manuscript done by a certain date and become a published author by a certain age. That I get so fixated on the finish line (although really, that thing is a moving target that will always shift just a little out of reach every time we come close to it) and I forget to enjoy the journey.

I might take a week off from work – but I get the feeling that I’ll just end up writing anyway. I can’t seem to take a break from writing or thinking about writing. Every minute I’m not writing, I feel like I’m wasting my life. There’s this voice in my head that goes, “Almost 28 years old and you still haven’t published your next book. How much more time are you planning to take to realise your dream?”

Which, I know, is completely unhealthy. We talk a lot about self-care, especially writers, who load a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves because damn we’re hard on ourselves sometimes. But often we don’t realise just how relentlessly we’ve been working or how hard we’ve been pushing ourselves until we get burned out. For the past few nights since hitting 60k on the novel, I’ve been crashing into bed early and taking naps on the weekend (something I NEVER do) because I’ve been so. tired. And this morning, I just experienced heart palpitations (which has occurred before).

I’m not writing this to offer solutions or preach about how we need to take care of our mental well-being, because heck, I’m just as clueless about this. I’m just here to share everything that’s been going on internally and hopefully – if you’re going through the same shit – make you feel less alone in this.

self care.jpg

So if you have any advice or suggestions on how to just relax and kick back without worrying about wasting time or not hitting your goals, please share! In the meantime, I’m off to hit up a bookstore and maybe have a guilt-free lunch to kickstart Self-Care Week.

Take care of yourselves too, loves!

5 thoughts on “I Need a Break

  1. Joyce, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been so stressed out and putting so much pressure on yourself! Just reading that third paragraph alone makes me want to reach out and give you a really big hug. But I think we all fall trap to this at one point or another, especially when we’re trying to balance everything. It’s so *hard*. But I think taking a break is definitely the right move. You deserve to breath and just focus on yourself. You’re job isn’t going anywhere and neither is writing; especially writing. Simply because you haven’t published another novel yet doesn’t mean anything. You’re *only* 28. I’m sure you’ve seen the age related threads and RTs on Twitter with everyone discussing how age doesn’t matter in writing; your writing does. Whether you’re publishing at 16 or 97, why should that matter? What matters is that you write stories that you love.

    So take this week for you. Do the things you love or have been neglecting. Eat good food and rest. Be selfish with your time and protect it. Do what *you* want to do. And get a fresh perspective on how you want to go back and what changes need to happen so that you don’t get this burnt out again, but you’re still working towards and accomplishing all the things you want/need to. And know that I’m always here for you (and I know Meredith is, too). ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Nicole. Truth be told, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit all this publicly – I had my reservations about publishing this post because it was so negative and reflected my desperation to get published. But then I thought about how relieved I always was whenever I read about the struggles a fellow writer is going through and I felt confident enough to publish this post.

      Yes, we’ve discussed this before, on how hard it is to balance everything. And I’m so grateful that you and Meredith are able to relate, and for how patient you both are.

      I have seen those tweets and advice on how age has zero relevance to our abilities or worth as a writer and how we shouldn’t judge ourselves for how long we take to get published. And I absolutely agree with those. Many writers hit their career stride in their later years and they are all the better for it because their writing also matured along with them. And I know that we should enjoy the process of writing instead of rushing to get to the finish line for the sake of having accomplished something. I just don’t know why my brain says these things to me that I would never say to another person or writer, or why I keep laying all this pressure on myself and turning writing into a source of stress for me.

      Even now, when I haven’t written a single word for three days and counting, I’m low-key worried about not knowing how to get back into the writing groove when I eventually get back to the writing desk. Even when watching a movie, I watch it like a writer, picking apart the plot and analysing character arcs and backstories and studying how the writer put it all together. How do I switch off my neurotic writer brain? Hahaha.

      Going for a good lunch and visiting an indie bookstore yesterday helped though. I know this lull will pass. This post was just a way to get everything off my chest, and I do feel better after writing it all out. And knowing that you and Meredith are always there for me is something I am invariably grateful for. ❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • So, from your first paragraph alone, I’m so proud of you. Because it is scary to admit those kinds of emotions and things that you are going through, especially in a public space like this. But to do so because you know it will help others who might be feeling the same way!? Noble doesn’t seem to cover it. ❤

        Oh, don't get me wrong: my brain does the same thing with the whole "not being published yet even though I'm 26" ALL OF THE TIME. Or be like, "Whoa, girl, you've written what, eight or nine novels, yet still don't have an agent? How worthless are you?" I was just trying to point you to some resources and reminders to try and help combat your brain a little bit. I do hate that we push so much pressure on ourselves, though. I know a LOT of writers in our situation (querying, debut, etc) who are dealing with this kind of pressure and panic that seem to be self-induced, but definitely influenced by the rigorousness of the publishing industry. I feel like we need to find a way to combat that in a healthy way so we can continue to tell the stories we love.

        Honestly, I think it just takes practice at recognizing that your neurotic writer brain is turned on and then you pause, take a step back and be like, "I'm just going to enjoy this in the moment. I can always pick it apart later if I really want to." And then just repeat it until it becomes ingrained for things like movies or reading for fun. I'm not sure how helpful that actually is, but maybe?

        YAY, I'm so glad that helped! I find that blogging about these types of things really does help, especially when you can start these types of discussions that might allow you to talk it out a little more and then digest it. And we are always here for you and I know you know that. And having you here is always such a blessing.

        We'll get through this, Joyce, even if it's just one day at a time. ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I always say this, but yeah what Nicole said. We’re always here for you, and please be gentle with yourself. You’re doing everything right, and holy crap your discipline is inspiring, but we’re not meant to be machines. Taking time off is totally necessary and ok, and I know it’s easier said than done but please go easy on yourself!!

    Sending love and hugs ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Refilling the creative well | the writes of passage

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