Writing to live or living to write?

I have just come back from a two-week break, away from my writing life, after promoting my short story How to Get Hitched in Ten Days. Why? Because since I got published two and a half years ago, work has steadily taken over my life. The children are older teenagers so often busy doing their own thing at weekends… It hasn’t been unusual, for months, for me to work seven days a week.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE  my job, which is one of the reasons I’ve been writing, editing and promoting 24/7. But over the last few months I’ve felt increasingly drained. Stale. Tired. So I decided to take a couple of weeks off – very unusual for me.

What did I do? Ooh, let’s see… I bought a new coat.

 

 

me coat front

 

me coat back

 

I  baked – here are some cereal bars (dipped in chocolate of course!)

 

cereal bars 2

I read.

I detoxed and replaced my usual tipple with my  new obsession: Costa Coffee hot chocolate.

hot chocolate

 

I caught up with friends.

I kept on top of the ironing and cleaning for once.

I can’t believe it has only been two weeks as I feel like a completely new woman, up early, out on my bike, skin clearer, head not fuzzy and – most importantly – not worrying about so many small things that stressed me up when I was working all hours. Rejuvenated. Motivated. Fresh. Batteries recharged, I am determined not to overdo it again.

And I don’t believe this resolution will affect my writing output as I feel a renewed but newly focussed energy to push on with my  next project. I’ve already started my new plan to fill my weekends with activities not linked to the writing world – apart from an author/blogger meet in a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t count as work! I’m talking the cinema. Shopping. Going for walks. All those things that have become rare events instead of much-needed breaks. That’s the trouble with working for yourself, whatever you do. It’s difficult not to get sucked into slaving all hours as you know that every extra minute spent at the computer might contribute to any success or, at least the next pay cheque.

So if you are a writer – or, in fact, anyone who is self-employed – take a moment to step back. Living to write had taken its toll. Now I think I’ll be a better author for writing to live.

10 comments

  1. Sue Blackburn says:

    Sensible lady to recharge. If you feel tired, stale and drained how can you produce your best work? Plus where’s the quality of life?.

    Good to have you back but glad you took the break xx

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thanks Sue. Yes I’ve had a really big think about the work/life balance, it is so easy to lose sight of it when you are pushing to further your career. Lots of hot chocolates in Costa Coffee helped 🙂 xx

  2. Faerl Marie says:

    Creative writing is one of the hardest jobs because of how easily it can consume you–all of you! It take emotional, mental, and physical energy and it take a lot of time! I’m glad you took a break and thank you for the reminder that sometimes, the best thing an author can do for their writing is to stop.
    Sincerely,

    Faerl Marie

  3. Jane Linfoot says:

    It’s all too easy to slip into seven day working…it’s great for character continuity, not so great for long term health and well being. Well done for taking time out – those hot chocolates sound delish – lovely to have you back tho Sam xx

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Hi Jane, aw thank you! Yes, it is really hard to resist, especially when you are throwing down a first draft, but I’m determined not to get into that spiral again – and hot chocolates do help enormously 😀 x

  4. Brmaycock says:

    As someone sitting in front of a computer tonight with notes for a review due to be posted, and nothing coming out, I say fair dues and well done, and I might do the same at some stage)! Oh and you very much deserve it, I’m sure it’ll do everything the world of good 🙂

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thank you! Yes, I think when the words don’t flow quite as easily that is a clear sign that a break is needed. Not always possible but even if it’s just a day or two, I think creatively that’s of benefit x

  5. Cynthia says:

    Welcome back! Recharging is so important, but more importantly, it feeds your creativity. There’s nothing worse than being drained and drawn, and sitting before your writing task with a dried out fount. 🙂

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thanks Cynthia, and too true. It’s easy to just write it off as writer’s block instead of realising your body is telling you to take a break 🙂

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