Regrouping to Improve Writing

by E.V. Jacob on November 16, 2012

As a writer (freelance and author), I spend a lot of time working. When you’re self-employed, you’re never really off the clock, and if you have an ounce of energy, you will inevitably think, “I should be putting this toward the business/book/latest project/etc.”

I had a whole plan of all the work I was going to get done—articles to write, words to add to the novel, business-related calls I would make, website updates, all that jazz.

But instead, what I ended up doing was helping other people all day.

Not in a charitable sense, really, as it was totally abrupt and unplanned—just in a “helping friends and family” kind of way. I did favours I’d promised to do, I helped get things situated for the people in my life, and I even baked some healthy treats.

It was a day that was unexpected and unplanned, but it was a day that I really needed. It was a day of regrouping, and resting, and being very active, but in very different arenas. I moved, I worked with my hands, I solved problems that have nothing to do with writing or business, and I stepped away from myself for a while.

I found inspiration in places I didn’t expect and remind myself why I’m doing all the things I’m doing. It was uplifting, and powerful, and strangely so, as it was just an ordinary day. I mean, yesterday was almost groundbreakingly profound for me…but…it was just Thursday, you know?

Yesterday served to remind me of how important it is to do other things. We can get so caught up with what we’re doing, what we’re trying to accomplish, what is most important for us. And being dedicated to our goals is wonderful and necessary and basically the only way to ensure success.

But sometimes, it’s necessary to take a break from all that and do something else entirely. Be in motion, be active and aware, but on a completely different level. I write all day—articles and books—so of course leaving the computer behind to work in the kitchen, to clean, to watch a baby…those things are all basic and normal, but doing only that kind of thing all day, and ignoring my writing entirely, was such a nice break.

It had a reaffirming effect on me. It was refreshing, and uplifting, and oddly invigorating.

And it was exactly what I needed, after the little rut I was starting to hit.

So next time you’re feeling off, or forgetting why you’re doing what you’re doing, or just going through a period of BLAH…take a break. Just stop. Back off or a while, do something else, something completely different. And if you can, work with others. Do something for someone else. A favor, a kind deed, even a surprise. Getting outside yourself is always a great way to regroup and put things into perspective.

What about you? Have you ever had a really great rut-escaping moment? What are your best methods for shaking off the blah and coming back strong? Share them in the comments below!

  • Anne Dorko

    Nicely put, Elena! I totally agree: As I’ve recently read, when you think about it your best ideas come in the shower, not while you’re working. Your brain needs a break, a rest, to be able to focus on outside things instead of always focusing on just one particular project 24/7.

    It also feels good to do things you said you would.

    • Elena Jacob

      Absolutely. It’s usually when I’m engaged with something entirely different that clarity strikes. Or, as I experienced Thursday, it was a “battery recharging” kind of experience.

      And yes, definitely–keeping your word is always a good feeling :)

  • Josh

    Taking a break does give me some perspective at times, though sometimes I feel a little uncertainty creep in about the direction I’m headed in. Other times, I feel like some rest let’s me recharge and can be inspiring. Recently, I felt motivated again by watching a TED talk from people who are passionate about creativity and that passion was inspiring. When I have taken a rest for too long and have some trouble getting back into things, I start off small, like writing a blog post before jumping in on a short story. Sometimes a good conversation with a supportive friend is what I need!

    • Elena Jacob

      That’s definitely true–if I break for too long, I will totally lose my momentum and have to start all over again. This was more along the lines of “I’ve worked non-stop for weeks and my options are A) take a break, or B) have a squeegee on hand for when my head explodes and splatters my computer with brain goo. So, coward that I am, I went with option A, haha. (Also, I hate messes.)

      I, too, love watching inspirational and motivational material. Something about passionate people really gets you fired up, and so I love seeing their talks because it helps me refocus :D TED talks are awesome for that, maybe I’ll post a few on here in the future :) Thanks for your comment! :D

Previous post:

Next post: