As writers who hold down day jobs, have family and social obligations, and try to fit creative writing into our lives, how do we find time to rest? When should we rest? For how long? And how guilty should we feel about it?

Today’s episode of the Write Now podcast takes a look at what we should do if (and when) we find ourselves exhausted, burned out, and feeling hopeless as we stare down a blank page.

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The Writing Paradox

Here in the United States (and perhaps elsewhere), we have a really weird relationship with resting. It’s seen as something for the weak — we say things like, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” and “Have you hit a brick wall? Keep working and push through it!” We brag about how little sleep we are able to subsist on, as if it somehow proves we’re strong.

The opposite is actually true. We need rest. Our bodies are weird, delicate, organic things that need good nutrition and proper care — and that includes rest.

But we’re addicted to being busy, and we live in the age of the “side-hustle”, which means that even when we’re not working, we’re working. We see TV as a waste of time, downtime as a wasted opportunity, and naps as a lazy indulgence. We’re taught to feel guilty and ashamed if we “treat ourselves” to a bit of relaxation now and again.

I’m guilty of this, too — back when I was working at Click Rain, I’d write at a coffeehouse before work, put in an 8-9 hour workday, and then work through the evening on another project.

What made it even more confusing and difficult is what I call the Writing Paradox:

Writing is sometimes part of resting. But sometimes resting means not writing.

My husband and I have had this discussion a couple times: He’ll see me doing some creative writing after work and tell me to stop working. I’ll argue that creative writing recharges my soul, fulfills me, and is a form of rest.

So… is writing work or rest? Or is it somehow both?

What Recharges You?

Today, I’d like you to ask yourself two questions. The first is: “What recharges me?” That is to say, what restores your energy? Work drains your energy, while a hobby or rest might restore it.

I had to make a list because, to be honest, at first I wasn’t entirely sure what recharged me. I had to seriously sit and think for a while about what made my soul feel at peace — what truly helped me feel calm.

Here’s my list:

  1. Sitting on the couch drinking tea with my cat in my lap
  2. Reading myself to sleep at night
  3. Going for a walk in the woods
  4. Sipping a cup of coffee and watching the sun rise outside
  5. Processing my thoughts through creative writing (paradox!)

These are the things that restore my energy. What’s on your list?

The second question I want you to ask yourself is, “Am I being intentional with the way I spend my time?” Asking yourself this question (and answering it honestly) can help you determine how to better fit in all of the things you want to do each day. Including rest.

What Do You Think?

How do you rest as a writer? Do you allow yourself to rest? And do you have any tips on how you stay intentional with your time?

Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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