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Paul
08-16-2012, 03:08 AM
A year? Two? Ten?

Anyone taken a long break and if so, for how long and were you able to get back into it?

Or is such a thing possible, or wise?

Anyone unable to resume writing after a long break?

CLARIFICATION: i'M TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU'VE BEEN WRITING FOR QUITE A WHILE, FINISHING WORK ETC, THEN TAKE A BREAK.

ManOfTongues
08-16-2012, 03:22 AM
I'm not sure I know what you mean by 'taking a break'? Do you mean from a particular project or from writing all together, as in no writing, editing or revising?

For example, I would consider myself on a break right now. I've just finished a first round of edits and I'm waiting to start another in a week or two. However, I have started another WIP, one that I'm not 100% sure about pursuing, but have planned nonetheless. I guess the break is the fact that I'm not really fully immersed in any project in particular and I'm just kinda free-floating.

If you're talking about the other type of 'break' as in, wake up one day and decide you'll not write for a while (or edit or query), I don't know if that would ever happen to me. I think that would be impossible for me, in fact. There's always something in me itching to create and that's near impossible to stop. However, if you've reached a point where you feel you need to step away from it all, perhaps for the sake of your own writing and wellbeing, I would recommend it. Don't put a time limit on it, though. I think you'll be surprised how quickly it pulls you back in.

- Michael

Saoirse
08-16-2012, 03:31 AM
To not write would be impossible for me. When I finished the novel I just released, I'd done 4 rounds of editing and before that, one very insane brain-melting revision where I basically rewrote the 2nd half of the novel in 2 weeks. (No, don't ask). After all that, and after I released the Kindle edition, I was so damn fried physically and emotionally that I took...a week off. I was thinking a month, but I couldn't wait that long. I had to get back at it.

But remember, I've been writing almost every day since 2003. Not writing is like not breathing.

Kerosene
08-16-2012, 03:44 AM
Are you planning a multiple year vacation? Or expecting to fall into a coma?

Short breaks can refresh a writer, long break without writing/reading can destroy what they have built.


I think my longest break was about a month and it was hard to recover from it.

Reading and breaking down what you're reading can keep your skills up though. However, this is like patching the problems. The actual action of writing is missing.

Unimportant
08-16-2012, 03:49 AM
No two people are the same. What is possible for one person is impossible for another.

I stopped writing for several years. When I started again, I sold the first three stories I wrote to the first markets I submitted them to. That's me. It's unlikely to be applicable to anyone else.

Filigree
08-16-2012, 03:50 AM
I took ten years away from original fiction, from 1999 to 2009. Granted, I was writing fan fiction and some non fiction articles during that time. The break was good for me; I came back to original fiction with better skills and more inspiration. If I'd kept on, gone to conferences, and submitted stuff during that ten years I might have been published faster. Or maybe not.

katci13
08-16-2012, 04:13 AM
Longest break I've had without finishing anything is 7 years, but I still attempted a few things here and there. But even with that, it was hard to get back into it. My writing didn't really suffer, per se, but my focus did. First story I finished was all over the place.

I never want to go through that again. I take about a week or two off between projects and usually half of that time is spent doing things that feed me creatively (plotting, outlining, sewing, reading, music, & watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) If I go longer than a month I start having mental breakdowns. (seriously) So needless to say, during my 7 year hiatus, I was a mess. I spent 3 of those 7 years in therapy. And all that time I had to do was start writing again to "fix" myself.

blacbird
08-16-2012, 08:38 AM
Based on my experience, eternity would be safest.

caw

Riley
08-16-2012, 08:54 AM
Your longest, safest break will depend upon you personally.

The longest break I ever took was about two/two and a half years, most of it against my will. And this was after writing almost every day for at least six years straight.

To get back into the swing of things again was like pulling teeth out of a pissed off 900-lb gorilla.

meowzbark
08-16-2012, 01:07 PM
I can't write every day without feeling burnt out.

I write for a month or two. Then I spend the next month or so either researching or reading so that when I start writing again, it feels stronger to me.

I don't think there is any set time limit. It all depends on the person.

dpaterso
08-16-2012, 01:39 PM
Danger, Will Robinson!

I reckon I was fairly prolific, writing every day.

I took a break and now I just can't seem to get back into the habit no matter how hard I try.

It's like trying to squeeze the last teeny drop of toothpaste from an old tube.

But as has been said, everyone's different.

-Derek

shadowwalker
08-16-2012, 04:23 PM
I think it's safe to say the longer you stay away, the harder to come back. You lose the habits you developed; you lose sight of the goals; you forget what it felt like to compose or finish something. Other things start taking precedence.

I wouldn't deliberately quit writing unless I also set a specific date to start up again. A vacation, as it were, with a deadline - and a short one, at that.

KellyAssauer
08-16-2012, 04:30 PM
How long a break is it possible to safely take from writing?

Eleven and a half minutes.

Anything longer than that has serious repercussions -especially in men- and specifically with libido and fertility issues over the long term.

Paul
08-16-2012, 04:34 PM
I think it's safe to say the longer you stay away, the harder to come back. You lose the habits you developed; you lose sight of the goals; you forget what it felt like to compose or finish something. Other things start taking precedence.

I wouldn't deliberately quit writing unless I also set a specific date to start up again. A vacation, as it were, with a deadline - and a short one, at that.


Danger, Will Robinson!

I reckon I was fairly prolific, writing every day.

I took a break and now I just can't seem to get back into the habit no matter how hard I try.

It's like trying to squeeze the last teeny drop of toothpaste from an old tube.

But as has been said, everyone's different.

-Derek

Exactly my fears. Re other comments, no coma, but other commitments, prob for two years maybe more. But then others seemed to have recovered...


Eleven and a half minutes.

Anything longer than that has serious repercussions -especially in men- and specifically with libido and fertility issues over the long term.
em....

victoriastrauss
08-16-2012, 07:28 PM
I've stopped for long periods--several years at a time--usually after finishing a project and encountering some kind of personal or professional road block that threw me for a loop and knocked me out of the writing zone. It's unfortunately very easy for me to stop writing, and it is always very difficult for me to gather the will and confidence to get back into it.

But I always do get back into it eventually, and I haven't found that my skills or habits suffer as a result of the hiatuses. When I'm finally able to take the scary plunge, it's like I never was away--like meeting an old, dear friend after not seeing them for a long time and feeling as if you last talked to them yesterday.

On balance, if you're serious about a writing career, I think it's best not to take extended breaks if you can help it (and of course, sometimes you can't). Mine have not done me any professional favors. But an extended break won't necessarily destroy you as a writer, or make it impossible to start up again.

- Victoria

James D. Macdonald
08-16-2012, 07:43 PM
How long is a piece of string?

gothicangel
08-16-2012, 07:54 PM
Danger, Will Robinson!

I reckon I was fairly prolific, writing every day.

I took a break and now I just can't seem to get back into the habit no matter how hard I try.

It's like trying to squeeze the last teeny drop of toothpaste from an old tube.

But as has been said, everyone's different.

-Derek

I seem to having the opposite problem. I just finished the first draft of my new novel, and jumped straight into the last polish of the previous MSS and I feel like the tank is empty.

victoriastrauss
08-16-2012, 09:15 PM
I seem to having the opposite problem. I just finished the first draft of my new novel, and jumped straight into the last polish of the previous MSS and I feel like the tank is empty.


I think that's an example of why writers SHOULD take breaks--short ones, a few days or weeks or even a couple of months. Sometimes the batteries need re-charging.

- Victoria

CrystalCierlak
08-16-2012, 09:38 PM
I just came off of something like a three week break while I finished up the previous semester, and I'm feeling really refreshed and ready to fine-tune my ms. Although... I had started my break before finishing the final paragraphs of one of the last chapters, and when I went to finish it after the break I found I wanted to edit instead... so my ms is unfinished and being edited. Whatever though. I'm feeling good about it and I don't start another semester until late September so there's time.

fadeaccompli
08-16-2012, 10:15 PM
I'd say that if you die before picking up writing again, the break might've been too long.

Paul
08-17-2012, 01:01 AM
I've stopped for long periods--several years at a time--usually after finishing a project and encountering some kind of personal or professional road block that threw me for a loop and knocked me out of the writing zone. It's unfortunately very easy for me to stop writing, and it is always very difficult for me to gather the will and confidence to get back into it.

But I always do get back into it eventually, and I haven't found that my skills or habits suffer as a result of the hiatuses. When I'm finally able to take the scary plunge, it's like I never was away--like meeting an old, dear friend after not seeing them for a long time and feeling as if you last talked to them yesterday.

On balance, if you're serious about a writing career, I think it's best not to take extended breaks if you can help it (and of course, sometimes you can't). Mine have not done me any professional favors. But an extended break won't necessarily destroy you as a writer, or make it impossible to start up again.

- Victoria

Nice post. It's a conundrum. I do sorta feel that if I do 'what must be done' for the next two years, I could set myself up in a nice position to get back to writing - in a surer footing, with less distractions and more focus.

It's just that nagging feeling. If I take a month's break, it very tough to get back into it. But two years?

I guess it's knowing why and being conscious of the return that might help. I'm aiming for that feeling you describe (in bold)



How long is a piece of string?
23 inches AFAIK.

Ken
08-17-2012, 01:44 AM
... am guessing that the max would be about 5 months. That long of a one might be beneficial for some writers under some circumstances. It's a possibility at least. Sometimes a long pause really is needed. Anything longer than 5 months, though is pushing it. A writer's skills would deteriorate, without doubt.

Shadow_Ferret
08-17-2012, 01:49 AM
I took a few years off. Not exactly sure the exact length.

But as soon as I came back I immediately finished a novella and my first novel and I've been writing since.

Jamesaritchie
08-17-2012, 02:38 AM
A year or more is not a break. Tell the boss at your day job that you're taking a break, and come back a year later. See what he says when you get back. Fifteen minutes is a break, two weeks is a good vacation, and much more than this means you've just decided to stop writing.

I honestly can't think of many commitments that mean you have to stop writing. I've known writers who had a family, a job, and were in college.

We all need breaks. Well, except for Dean Koontz. But writers write. Stop writing, and you aren't a writer.

Dreity
08-17-2012, 03:13 AM
Recently I took a break for about a month and a half, two months. My husband had just finished an extremely demanding temp job and I wanted to remember what it was like to be married again (though I did appreciate the abundant writing time while he was gone!). However, the story I'm writing is a collaborative effort. Not a day goes by that we aren't talking or thinking about it in some way, and the games that we play and shows that we watch also feed our creative monsters. Now he's back at work (permanent with almost full-time hours too, woot!) and writing no longer takes away from our time together.

I do find that it's hard getting myself back into a regular routine as far as typing actual words every day goes. I can only imagine how much harder this would be had I avoided any creative pursuits during that time period.

TLDR version: Take as long as you think you need, but have a general time frame in mind regarding when you plan to return (you can come back sooner or later than projected, so long as you come back!), and don't stop doing things that stimulate your creativity in the meantime.

Manuel Royal
08-17-2012, 06:09 AM
How long is a piece of string?Twice as long as half a piece of string.

I let a myself get derailed several times. Never really decided to take a break; just kept putting off getting to work. Quite a few years.

As long as your brain works, you can start over. (In my case, I'd gained valuable life experience.)

Sarashay
08-17-2012, 06:21 AM
I figure I'll take a break when I'm dead. Until then, I'll keep at it.

druid12000
08-17-2012, 07:15 AM
I wrote for several years. Even had some poetry published. I didn't write again, seriously, for 15 years. I still have all of those ideas locked in my twisted brain but I'm letting them out slowly now so they they can preen and frolick as they should.