Taking Time Out from your Writing: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

As writers, we can put ourselves under a lot of pressure to get things done – whether it’s to finish a chapter, finish this draft, or begin editing. Deadlines may help to keep us focused but sometimes we need to step back and take some time away from our writing. We might feel blocked or overwhelmed by our writing, and recognising we need time away can help us return to the desk in a better position. I have put together some articles and YouTube videos on taking time away from writing that I hope you’ll find useful.

  1. How To Take A Purposeful Break From Writing (And Why) | Writer’s Relief (writersrelief.com)

Putting down that pen or stepping away from the keyboard can actually improve your writing. This article from Writer’s Relief tells us that writing is a workout for the brain. And, just as with any other strenuous activity, it’s important to rest so you don’t become burned out or exhausted. When you put your writing aside, you also give your subconscious an opportunity to come up with other ideas or answers to tricky plot points, or character developments that might have you stumped. It also discusses writer’s block and advises that instead of trying to write your way through writer’s block, walk away. Taking time out and taking breaks can lead to your best writing. The article moves on to discuss ways you can take a purposeful break from writing. These include reading, listening to podcasts, keeping a journal, and trying new experiences.

  1. Why Taking Writing Breaks is Important – Writer’s Edit (writersedit.com)

Often we work continuously on the same piece of writing we can lose our objectivity. We forget that simply powering through can affect the quality of our work. Taking a break allows us to come back to our work with a clear mind and a new perspective. Sometimes when reviewing work after a break we might even change our focus and bring new ideas to our writing. Taking a break can help if we lose sight of why we are writing something or if we are losing the enjoyment. It doesn’t mean you can’t think about your current writing project or new ideas. You are just allowing your mind to rest and re-energise. Writer’s Edit suggests things such as observing people whilst taking a break, and to keep reading.

  1. Should You Take a Break From Writing? 5 Red Flags – Helping Writers Become Authors

At some point for almost all writers, taking a break from your writing becomes valuable and perhaps even necessary. This article discusses 5 signs you should take a break from writing. From, you really don’t want to write, to feeling exhausted, drained, or burned out, experiencing fear, not knowing what to write, and prioritising other commitments. It moves on to discuss 4 beneficial things to do during a writing break. These include writing other stuff, taking care of yourself, filling your creative well, and examining your resistance to writing.

  1. 5 Ways To Take A Writing Break Without Quitting – Bethany Henry (bethany-henry.com)

Everyone operates a bit differently, but Bethany Henry sees two main reasons why we need to take breaks from our writing from time to time. Either our project demands it, or our life does. She shares ways to take a break from writing without quitting. Having a defined timeline to take time away keeps us aware of time passing and keeps us from forgetting about our writing. Having accountability with other writers can add external motivation to remain committed to them. Remembering why you started your current writing project and why you write, and planning for your return is important too, even if you take a few minutes to write down what’s next with your writing project – is it a read-through, research, or revision? Having a roadmap of sorts will give you a starting point when you return.

  1. Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing – Helping Writers Become Authors

Here is another article from Helping Writers Become Authors. This one is about why you should walk away. Sometimes the only way to make progress as a writer is to walk away from your writing. This article shares a handy checklist for deciding when to walk away from your writing and advises you to go through this checklist before deciding. The checklist includes rereading part of your manuscript every day or so, trying freewriting, checking if you’ve gone off track somewhere, and spending time on world-building and character profiling. It moves on to discuss for how long you should walk away. This article reminds the writer that you are a separate entity from your words. If one project stalls, and you try to push through or walk away for a while and it still doesn’t work, move on to a new project. You’re a writer, and that’s true no matter what project you’re working on.


If you keep going, you’re going to burn out, but if you stop, you might not get your momentum back. That is a common concern for many writers, especially in this high-pressure world where we prioritise productivity over health. As creatives, we know how vital good momentum is. Momentum could help us smash through creative blocks and get words down. However, we’re still human and we need breaks. In this video, from Writer’s Health, they share a few approaches to take with projects to ensure guilt-free breaks and the ability to return to my work with a running start.

In this video, the PROS and CONS of taking breaks from writing are discussed.

In this video, Alexa Donne discusses writing hacks for when you’re not writing and when you need to get new ideas and fresh inspiration! Refilling the well means taking time off from writing to recharge your creative batteries.

Don’t feel bad about taking a break from your writing. Sometimes that is what’s needed to be able to push through to the end. Refill your creative well, and let your mind think over plot points or character development. Your subconscious can often work it out for you while you are taking a break. Your writing project will always be there for you on your return, and you’ll be surprised what a fresh perspective can throw up. I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always, get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel, The Lies Beneath – to be published by Poolbeg in April 2024.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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