Rest for the Weary Writer’s Mind

The town of Red Wing with Barn Bluff and the Mississippi in the background.

The town of Red Wing with Barn Bluff and the Mississippi in the background.

 

This past week I took a much needed day off from my day job to visit the lovely town of Red Wing with my family. The town is only about an hour’s drive away, but its situated right near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, next to the Mississippi River. The plan was to explore the quaint shops and restaurants of the downtown area and enjoy a stroll along the river where the picturesque bluffs tower over the town. It was a lovely “daycation” for me and my family, which not only provided quality time together in a very beautiful part of the state, but also helped me recharge as a writer.

I think every writer comes to a point in their writing life where they feel a little stilted or exhausted mentally from their work. Words just don’t flow together as well they should, ideas are not coming as easily, or inspiration for new material is scarce. Some would label this writer’s block and that may well be the case, but I’m not quite sure that captures it. The writing is still being done, but it just isn’t satisfying the critic inside and you don’t know exactly why. For myself, I’ve found that this often happens to me when I’m writing too much and reading too little. It’s a kind of give and take that’s off-balance. I can write fine, but I haven’t researched enough or taken a long enough break from writing to let my mind rest.

As I’ve been working on a new novella, I’ve been cramming in writing sessions to get it done and meet my deadline at the end of the year, but the push to write without a break to read a book, take a walk, or spend some time to reflect has come at a cost: my writing isn’t good. Now I don’t mean to say that grammar, structure, and basic skills have all gone out the window–not at all. I just know as I read what I’ve written, there’s something lacking. Life in the words, passion in the prose–that sort of thing is missing. It’s a very subtle piece that’s missing and readers might not pick up on it, but a writer very likely would. Characters are coming off flat, the plot is uninspired, dialogue is monotonous, etc. Those are the symptoms and the cure, I think, is to take a break from writing.

Go on a writer “daycation.” Find a beautiful, remote place where you can be alone with your thoughts and enjoy God’s creation. Take a hike on a nature trail and become refreshed. Sit outside and read your favorite book while enjoying the fall colors. Let your mind soak in the rest it needs then go back and write. I did this during my trip to Red Wing and when I came back I felt renewed, refreshed, and ready to write!

Now I must give a  recommendation on getting away to ease your writer mind: do something that requires activity. Don’t just sit on the couch and watch Netflix or play video games. That kind of leisure is not stimulating to the mind and you might find it does little to reinvigorate your writing. Instead plan a getaway that requires some light physical exertion, reading, or inward reflection. I’m positive it will be helpful in getting your creative juices flowing and getting the life back into your writing.