It might be easy to think that it’s hard to write in the midst of turbulent times. The world is in turmoil with politics, wars, natural disasters, cancel culture, inflation, and everyone fighting on all sides for the things they think are important. There are so many things going on all around us that can make it easy to take our eyes off what’s truly important to each of us: family, health and wellbeing, friends, and safety.
I like to think that our passions of writing and running are included as part of our wellbeing. But when times get turbulent, how do we keep our focus on the things that matter so we can stay productive? Rest. Rest can actually increase your productivity.
Ever had the flu? Most of us have. I remember the last time I had the flu. My body ached. I had cold chills and a high fever. I had congestion in my head and chest, my nose ran, and all I wanted to do was curl up in the bed and sleep. Like all day. I had no appetite. I thought about medicine and trying to get comfortable. I was like that for three whole days! But when I felt better, my mind went back to my to-do list and I actually had more energy to work on it and get things done. Rest is what rejuvenated me. I became more productive.
You’ve turned into an unproductive writer. You’ve been working on your novel for at least a year, but you still haven’t finished it yet. You’ve paused your writing for at least 3 months, but no new ideas have come to you. You’ve finished the first draft, but you have no idea how to revise it. You’ve been writing weekly for at least 6 months, but it feels sporadic and like you’re not gaining any traction. If any of these apply to you, then you’re probably stuck in the Unrested Writer Plateau. And if you’re experiencing any of these problems, then you’re likely making one of the following mistakes.
Here are three counterintuitive ways you can get out of the Unrested Writer Plateau and become a more productive writer.
1. Take Your Time
People who go to church relish the Sabbath Day. For some that’s Saturday, for most Christians, that’s Sunday. The Hebrew word, shavat, means “to rest,” “He rested,” “to cease,” “to desist.” So the Sabbath Day is a day to rest from your daily labors. To take time away from the chaotic turbulent world around us and focus on more important things.
Same thing with your writing. When problems arise, take your time. Instead of pushing past every problem as soon as they arise, pause for a minute and ask yourself what all your options are. Brainstorm. Take a break from your manuscript for a week, and you’ll be able to come back with fresh eyes, and be able to see what needs to be revised.
2. Stop Writing
Rest is an important step in making bread. You mix the ingredients to form a dough. You knead the dough to activate the ingredients. You let the dough rest to ensure it will rise. When the dough isn’t allowed to rise, you’ll end up with flat lifeless boring bread that doesn’t taste right.
Don’t make the mistake of skipping important steps in your writing. If you skip the step of outlining a plot for your story, then your story will fall flat. It will be lifeless, boring, and won’t taste right. So stop focusing on the actual writing of your story and take some time to create a plot outline.
3. Rest Your Brain
The famous Jeff Galloway, running coach extraordinaire, advised runners to walk 1 minute every mile to allow the legs to rest and your running output to skyrocket. Taking a 1-minute rest every 10 minutes or so increases running productivity. Don’t make the mistake of not celebrating all the small wins. Every mile you run is a win, so celebrate it with a 1-minute walk.
You can celebrate your writing accomplishments by going for a run. For every chapter or scene you write, go for a run. Or when you need a break from the rigors of writing, rest your brain by going for a run.
We’ve helped nearly a hundred students strengthen their stories by creating a plot outline - even if they haven’t started writing their story yet or they’ve already written the first draft. Sign up for the Plot Masterclass and get out of the Unrested Writer Plateau.
Keep writing, keep running.
What’s your favorite way to relax? Let me know on the Writers Who Run Facebook page.
Christie Wright Wild
Founder, Writers Who Run
Creator, Plot Like a Novelist
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