Resting, or Not-Writing

There’s an expression British actors use: when they’re out of work, they don’t say that they’re unemployed, they say that they’re “resting.” I like that for more than one reason.

“Resting” is an active verb. You’re doing something if you’re resting. In other words, if I’m not writing, I am resting. I am making an effort to not-write.

(Remember how I keep saying writing is all about psyching yourself into it?)

Things happen when I’m resting. My conscious mind might not be grinding away at a story, but I feel that underneath, story is happening, coalescing from disparate thoughts and experiences like a weird plankton colony. When the colony of ideas is big enough, they show up in my conscious mind, and that’s when I “have an idea.” So to get ideas, I have to rest. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Sometimes, resting seems to happen spontaneously. I don’t mean that I suddenly can’t write; it’s that I suddenly don’t want to write. My creative feelings are knotted together, and every sentence is a struggle, even if I know what I’m supposed to be writing and have a good plan for achieving it. When that happens, if the deadline allows, I stop. I put the writing aside for a few days, or even a week. I allow myself to read books (see yesterday’s post!) and go out and socialize. It isn’t the same feeling as when I’ve just finished a novel and am completely empty; it’s more of a tense waiting feeling. That’s when I know I need rest.

Once I give myself permission to stop for a little while, a level of tension vanishes. And when I go back to writing, my love of writing and of my story is renewed.

Related Posts: Synergy in Writing and Research, Reading for the Writer, and Shopping and Recharging. The Art of Waiting.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
This entry was posted in writing process. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Resting, or Not-Writing

  1. Kate Pearce says:

    I wish I had time for some ‘resting’ but luckily even when I’m super busy my sub-conscious just ticks on over new ideas and plot complications so that when I do sit down to write again stuff happens LOL

  2. jenniferroland says:

    I’m so glad to finally see someone who recognizes the value of rest. Rest is important with physical activity, the day job (if you have one), and with writing, too. An exhausted writer creates exhausted prose.

  3. Jax Cassidy says:

    I totally relate! I will start using “I’m resting”…it’s very positive and I’m going to be glad when the resting becomes “deadlines”. I miss that word, can’t believe I’m admitting to it.

  4. Victoria Janssen says:

    Kate, sometimes it works for me that way, too–it’s like hyper-writing. If I had more deadlines, maybe….

    Jennifer, I finally just accepted that I needed it, after years of trying to go without and failing.

    Jax, I like the switching back and forth between “rest” and “furious scribbling.”

  5. Heather says:

    Good post! Resting is as integral a part of writing as refilling the creative well.

Comments are closed.