Practice a Pause
Summer. A time to reconnect with family and friends. Staycations. Vacations. Day trips. Breaks are not a luxury. We need them to recharge physically and emotionally. Even athletes understand the value of training breaks to cultivate prolonged endurance in their respective sports.
But what about writers? We might think we don’t have time to practice a pause. The publishing world requires consistent perseverance. Write. Market. Develop our platform. Increase our followers. Network. Learn to improve our writing. Learn how to edit. Keep up with the industry. And all this is added to the non-writing areas of our life: family, work, church, and friends. The demands on a writer seem never-ending.
But breaks and rest are not luxuries for writers, either. When Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31), He didn’t include any exceptions. And that goes for writers, too.
Benefits of practicing a pause for the writer include:
We need breaks from the computer screen to rest our eyes. Every 20 minutes look away from your monitor to something 20 feet away to relax your eye muscles. Intentionally blinking more helps combat dry eye syndrome. Brief exercise breaks also help relieve muscle tension in our back, neck, and shoulders.
Taking breaks—including extended breaks over days and weeks!—gives us time to reconnect with family, friends, and life in general. While writing may be a priority in our life, it’s important to remember that people are eternal. Invest in the people in your life while they’re still with you!
Besides, we won’t be able to draw on life experiences for our writing if we don’t get out there and live those experiences!
Our brains need time away from a task to cultivate creative connections. A 2011 University of Illinois study revealed our attention and ability to focus actually decreases after focusing for a long while on one task.
Learning to practice a pause also recharges our creativity. If you want your brain to make those creative connections, take a pause!
Last but not least, taking breaks and practicing a pause also provides spiritual benefits. The obvious benefit is one of obedience. The Sabbath rest included in the Ten Commandments is just that: a command. But in addition to obedience, it helps remind us to reprioritize if our priorities have skewed, keeping God in first place. When we push ourselves 24/7, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the burden of the world—or at least our world—rests on our shoulders. That communicates a lack of faith in our great God. And let’s face it, that’s also an exhausting way to live!
So this summer, include breaks in your day and extended breaks over multiple days. Practicing a pause will actually improve your writing!