The Magic of the Mountains: Why You Need Time-Out to Write Better
I’ve just returned from another blissful break in the Drakensberg mountains, Kwa-zulu Natal, South Africa, and the feeling of peace and stillness within gives me the tools and energy to continue with Book 4 without a tired brain and feelings of “I don’t feel like doing this” getting in the way. That’s fatigue talking, and to a writer fatigue – brain, body, and will – is never a good thing. Creativity disappears and the will to go looking for it, or the desire to try to conjure it up from that deep place within, is too much like hard work.
Taking a break, and not feeling guilty about doing so, is as vital to your writing processes and creation abilities than sitting for hours hitting the keys in a frenzy of trance-like passion, finding that wonderful, unexplainable flow that nothing can stop. Just like your body, your brain needs rest and to be surrounded by tranquillity in order to rejuvenate and remain connected to the Source of your creation magic.
After just finishing The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 and seeing to the final checks before printing goes ahead has been exhausting, to which I’m sure many of you can attest. Being who I am, I wanted to continue immediately with Book 4 and keep the flow of the story moving rapidly ahead because the final book in the tetralogy, The Sword Bearer’s Ascension, is jam-packed with action and great emotion and culminates years (in the writer’s life and that of her characters’) of awesome adventure across time and space, thrills, tears (again, the writer’s and her characters’), loss, love, great joy and great sorrow, and I didn’t want to have a break because I was absolutely convinced that if I stopped then I’d lose touch with the story and my characters.
But I was wrong.
We packed up – my laptop was my top priority, naturally – and when we arrived in this glorious setting I was fully prepared to spend a couple of hours each day writing.
But then a wonderful thing happened: nature took me over and the magic of the place infused me so completely that wonder replaced that constant urgency to get in front of my laptop. Instead, I allowed my surroundings to inspire me, and slowly, after giving in to the calm, I began to see different ways to make the final and most important book even more powerful and moving than the previous three. Instead of only seeing the one linear path I had decided to take, quite a few more options opened up. My mind began to play and enjoy the variations, tossing them about like a juggler would his colourful, hypnotic balls, and slowly I began to see the story and characters from many different angles and viewpoints, adjusting, rearranging, and approaching scenes from a fresher perspective rather than that single, linear train of thought I’d had before the holiday.
It was on the second day, after fighting hard to stay away from the laptop (gotta thank the hubby here for making me go on long walks), that this freshness of thought made me realised how stuck – visually and creatively – I’d truly been. The stunning views, the autumn smells, the birds, monkeys, buck, and even the feral cats wandering around the resort made me understand just how vital it is to find time to move away from my story, to escape the desperate clinginess (is that a word?) of my characters and, in fact, move away from the entire project to enable me see it so much better.
I urge you, dear writer, to find the time to distance yourself from your stories at least once a month and escape from your writing environment and from your current story, and fly away on the wings of nature, of tranquillity, of things that have nothing to do with writing, and once you are there to just breathe deeply, close your eyes, still your mind, and then, when you’ve achieved perfect peace, allow your story and characters to return, but view them, as it were, from afar so that you can be an observer and not a partaker for once, and perhaps genius and true revelation will find you!
I hope I inspired you to take it easy once in a while and not to fear letting go in order to find greater perspective and perhaps the answers to whatever has you stuck. Give your brain a break – it’ll thank you 🙂
What experiences have you had regarding this issue? Do you agree that having a break can only do your creative functions some good, or do you have to slog away, fiercely intense and inward-turned, until that first draft is done?
I love hearing your thoughts! Please share them with us.
Posted on May 11, 2013, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Tools to Help You Get Started, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged Art of Writing, Believe in Yourself, Creative writing, Imagination, Journey of self-discovery, peace, rejuvinate, The Sword Bearer's Ascension, The Sword Bearer's Awakening, The Sword Bearer's Journey, The Sword Bearers, tranqillity of the mind, Writing Exercises, Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.