This Week In Writing, we talk about writing streaks and why letting them go is okay.
I’ve long been an ardent proponent of daily writing. There’s a foundational chapter in my book about building the writing muscle by creating something every day.
I exercise the muscle by journaling using a set of randomized questions. Or, I should say that I did exercise the muscle this way. Last week I intentionally ended the streak after 1,903 days.
1,903 is more than five years. Five years where I’d spend anywhere from five minutes to an hour journaling every night. Then, one day last week, I just… stopped.
The why is complicated — I had nothing to say; I wanted a change; I felt trapped by the streak. All of these things were true.
A few weeks ago, I talked about being root-bound as a writer. Something hit me, and I just wanted to stop. Sure, I could have held out 97 more days to end on the nice, round 2,000 mark. Or, I could stop randomly at 1,903. That’s what I chose.
This weekend, I was graciously given keys to a beach condo. My plan was to go, recharge, and outline a few weeks’ worth of newsletters while getting my daily journaling back on track.
Maybe it was kismet, but the wifi in the condo was broken, and my phone only seemed to get reception sporadically. Instead of doing anything I planned, I read Silo by Hugh Howey while listening to the waves. And you know what? It was wonderful.
Writing streaks can be powerful things. They help us build our writing muscles while creating the discipline to dedicate time to our creative pursuits. But, as I learned over this past week, sometimes it’s ok to just… stop. Sometimes not writingis more important than actually putting words on the page.
This article is the first thing I’ve written since returning from the beach, and, I can tell you, dear reader, the words are flowing out of me like they haven’t in a long time. I feel recharged.
Will I ever have another 1,903-day writing streak? Maybe. Right now, however, I will leave the daily writing to chance for a while. We’ll see when and where inspiration strikes. If I start building another streak organically, then I’ll follow that path. But right now, I’m not going to force anything.
This week I will do something I rarely do and ask you to stop writing. Take a day off. Push a deadline (if you can). Taking a break can do wonders for the soul, and, just maybe, our writing will benefit.
How do you know when it’s time to take a break from writing? Hit reply and share your tips.
Speaking of Silo…
I picked up the Silo Omnibus (all four books in the Silo series) on Kindle for $1.99 last week. I figured, for $2, what did I have to lose?
Someone on Mastodon recommended the books since AppleTV+ adapted it into new series coming out this summer. Since all four books are merged into one Kindle document, I have no idea how far into the first book I am, but it’s really interesting. The world-building is fascinating!
Speaking of AppleTV+…
Who’s watching Shrinking? It’s one of the most heartfelt shows I’ve seen in some time. It’s funny, sweet, and has Harrison Ford singing Sugar Ray! Do you need another endorsement?
Want to discuss Silo, Shrinking, or writing streaks? Upgrade your subscription and unlock access to My Writing Community. These discussions happen daily!
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now you see, I have exactly the opposite problem. I was writing along just fine and then I took a fall. Literally. I'm 71 and I walk for exercise, and in trying NOT to turn an ankle I ended up pitching forward and hitting my chin, my nose and of course the entire front of my body. I went to the hospital, where I was examined and nothing was broken. I was in terrible pain for the next two weeks and when I was finally physically able...nothing. Nada. No ideas, no stories...no nothing. I'm fairly well healed physically but my writing muscles seem to have been adversely affected. So, I've struggled with my morning journalling (three pages every morning nothing exciting) but...like I said earlier. Nothing. I'm worried.
Your words, especially when you mentioned spending time at a beach reminded me of Anne Morrow's Lindberg's book Gift from the Sea. She said beach time works differently. She had plans to write but instead just listened to the waves and picked up shells and let the wide spaces fill her.
I took a break from writing last year when someone who needed care in my life required extra attention and I could not focus on writing at the same time. Right now though, I'm in a writing phase and I'm grateful for it. 😊