In All Things Erika, Erika's Dreams, For Dream Chasers, For Writers, Motivation, Overcome Obstacles, Writer's Block

…it’s that I miss writing.

I’ll admit, at first I used our renovation as an excuse for why I didn’t have time to sit down and work on my next book. In hindsight, I think I needed a mental vacation from writing. I know plenty of writers who take some time away from writing in between books. In fact, I could argue that it’s critical. But I didn’t allow myself that because if I wasn’t writing then what was I doing? Instead, I started brainstorming my next book. And I quickly discovered that the passion I had for Empty Arms wasn’t there for the new book. And that scared me because I can’t devote myself to something that I’m not fired up about; the writing suffers, the process suffers, and I suffer. So I buried myself in our renovation. I spent all my time speaking to contractors and researching products. Instead of brainstorming book ideas I was reading up on the pros of fiber cement siding (It has many by the way – I recommend James Hardie Denver very highly for this). It was the perfect guise; no one could ask any questions or cry foul, because I was busy, busy, busy. Every day. Some times I wish I wasn’t as busy. I must admit we ended up getting help with some things, just because we were so busy. For example, we got some professionals in to fit our shutters like these that offer luxury window shutter designs and installation over at This was a massive help. It made a stressful process a lot less stressful, and I wish we had done similar with other aspects of the work. However, once you start renovating, it’s difficult to stop. After one of our friends sent us a link to some 1930’s Doors, we added changing some of the doors in the house to our list. Again, this was one of those jobs where it might’ve been much easier to ask a professional to do it for us, saving us time and effort. However, it was nice to get my mind off writing for a while. One piece of advice I’d give to anyone undertaking house renovations is to make sure you get a Renovation Expert in to help. With hindsight (isn’t it a wonderful thing?), this would have helped us to manage the project and made us that little bit less busy.

But then something unexpected happened: being away from my computer and immersed in non-writing activities, I found myself thinking about writing. A lot. New story ideas started popping into my brain and I felt my passion return. It’s as if unfocusing for a while helped me get refocused. (Side note: if you can get past the fact that he knowingly mis-quoted Bob Dylan and plagarized himself, Jonah Lehrer explores this concept in Imagine: How Creativity Works).

At last, we are T-minus two weeks until we move into our new house and while I’m really excited to live in our new space, I can’t wait to hunker down in my new writing office and get back to work.

Do you ever take mental vacations from your passion?

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Showing 4 comments
  • Scott Neilson

    Erika…I SOOO know what you are talking about.

    When I was planning on retiring from the corporate world, I had not anticipated that I would need any time to decompress before jumping into my leadership work. Once I had actually retired I found that I had a feeling of general uneasiness.

    I feel a little silly that I did not anticpate that retiring would require an adjustment. But, it does…even if you have been planning on it for some time.

    Now it has been a few months and I am starting to get renewed energy for doing the things I had planned to do in retirement.

    I think it is good to take a break. It enables us to refresh our energies and clear away all the things that can make it difficult to focus. I think that vacations are supposed to help us do that…but, here in the USA we do not seem to use that option well.

  • Suzanne

    I think this time away and then beginning in a beautiful new home will bring you loads of inspiration. Breaks are a good thing!

  • Brianna

    Not writing definitely helps me get back into writing mode. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year and I always take the whole month of December off from writing, just to step back from the story and the intensity of pounding out such a high word count each day.

  • Mary Shafer

    OMG, absolutely! It’s just like any other creative pursuit: You must recharge the well every once in awhile, or it runs dry. I think Americans are so driven that we have a very unhealthy attitude toward work (and most of the rest of life, as well). Why? We have no sense of balance! It’s always work, work, work — as if it’s shameful to be doing anything else. It’s everything, as much as possible, all the time; multi-tasking has become almost a religion. We feel guilty if we’re not always working, and the excuse “Oh, sorry, I had to work,” has become not just an acceptable reason not to do something else (regardless how much we really SHOULD be doing that other thing), but in fact a badge of honor. It’s kinda sick, really.

    The irony is that, proven by study after study, once we reach our limit (and everyone has one, acknowledged or not), the harder we push, the less productive we actually become. At some point, we just need to rest, decompress, clear our mental screens and do something else. Preferably something we enjoy, that feeds our guttering creative wells, but definitely something different than that which has drained us. We simply need a break.

    You discovered that for yourself, and now you know. It’s a lesson that will serve you well into the future of your writing career and the rest of your life — good for you!

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Empty Arms by Erika Liodice