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I enjoy writing short stories very much, even though it is only a hobby for me, and I never gave thought towards publishing anything. I find that it's a good way to be productive with my time.

There are two pieces of advice I have followed since discovering my love for writing: write often and read often, and I try to do both, but sometimes writing gets in the way of much needed reading time. I don't consider it a bad thing at all, but I feel as though my writing isn't up to par because of it.

I was thinking about taking a break from writing for a week or two to catch up on my reading, as a way to "recharge" myself, and I was wondering if this was a good idea.

  • Welcome to Writers! I've removed the 'fiction' tag, as - while what you write might be fiction - this question doesn't deal exclusively with fiction (you could be writing non-fiction and have the same question). It does, however, deal with creative writing. I also added the 'time' tag, and fixed one typo. Feel free to rollback the edits if you feel I misrepresented what you were trying to say. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 16 '17 at 5:29
  • Yes, do this. If you need to take a break to study the art of writing and voice, do so by all means. If you think it might improve your writing, by golly, just do it. – Aspen the Artist and Author Oct 16 '17 at 21:43
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Should you take a break from writing?

Yes.

Writing is, at its core, a creative process (especially where fiction is concerned). You can't force creativity. Or at least you shouldn't. If you try to force your writing, your writing will be... well, forced.

A rule of writing I've always followed is that if things just aren't working out or you don't have the interest you did yesterday, go do something else. Do something which requires engagement on your part, like playing a game or talking with friends. But don't, say, take a run in the park. Don't be alone with your thoughts, because they will invariably turn to your writing. Force yourself to confront something else for awhile, then come back to your writing when you're ready.

Just make sure that you write something after a week, even if you immediately throw it out. Without practice, your writing will begin to stagnate.


While it is not relevant to this answer, one thing I wanted to note was something you said in your OP:

sometimes writing gets in the way of much needed reading time.

This is a warning sign to me. Reading is very important. It is one sure way to become a better writer (assuming you are selective about what you read, of course). But your phrasing suggests that you find yourself wanting to write during your set 'reading-time'.

Whatever you do, do not fight this. If your interest in your writing is up, and you feel like it's been sub-par lately, the last thing you need to do is quash the urge to write when you have it.

Reading is very important, but it can be done at virtually any time. Writing cannot. Writing comes and goes as it pleases. Writing doesn't care about your schedule, or your sleep patterns for that matter. You should not be trying to fit writing into your schedule. You should be trying to fit your schedule around your writing. If you're serious about writing, that is.

Now if your writing is truly just an enjoyable hobby, then my only advice to you is this: relax. Don't worry about your writing being on 'par'. Don't grade your writing. If you write for fun, that's all that matters: writing. Write what you want, when you feel like it.

The only one you need to please with your writing is yourself. And if the act of writing is enjoyable, then you're already there.

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    Yes, I only write if I am in the creative groove, and even then, I write what is in my head some times meaning my book is not even being written in chronological order. Several times I wrote scenes from the middle or even ending of the book. – ggiaquin16 Oct 16 '17 at 15:42
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    You might find that what you are writing isn't even part of the book at all. Sometimes it helps to 'just write'. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 16 '17 at 17:39
  • Yes! Some of my scenes have actually become irrelevant, though I might be able to modify them to still fit within context. – ggiaquin16 Oct 16 '17 at 17:40
  • "Writing is, at its core, a creative process (at least where fiction is concerned)." I respectfully disagree. Writing non-fiction is also creative (perhaps a bit less so than fiction) because you have to get your ideas across in a way the reader can accept and make use of them. This is what makes great non-fiction writing. – Jennifer Oct 16 '17 at 19:30
  • @Jennifer True. Perhaps a better wording would be 'especially where fiction is concerned'. As you said, fiction is probably more creativity-intensive than non-fiction, but I agree that they both require creativity. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Oct 16 '17 at 19:34
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The safest time to take a break is between projects, I think. Taking a break in the middle of a project could kill it, there is too much of the project still in your head, held in 'working memory'. As long as the characters still live in your mind you won't lose that, but when you stop writing and are no longer reinforcing the machinery of the story by thinking about it every day, you lose that working memory.

The danger of taking any break is never coming back from the break. I can't see a reason for asking this question unless that possibility worries you. I wouldn't worry much, if writing really is fun for you, then returning to it should be fun too.

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    I can definitely agree about the danger of taking a break, however I don't think it is also so black and white. I took a 3 month break from my writing and came back to it with a new, fresh view that propelled me forward with more enthusiasm than I had previously. – ggiaquin16 Oct 16 '17 at 18:08
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    Agreed, nothing is black and white except type on the page! – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 16 '17 at 18:16
  • Like ggiaquin, I have come back from a break/ hiatus. The last one was from about 2010/2011 until the early part of 2017. A very similar thing happened. I came back to the story with much more maturity and just an overall better idea how to handle the entire story world, even if yes, my writing grew rusty. I nearly lost the ability to use descriptive language etc, but doing some reading is helping me gain that back too. – BugFolk Dec 22 '17 at 20:38

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