Time Off Can Get You to the Finish Line by LA Bourgeois
Let’s welcome back LA Bourgeois as she shares with us “Time Off Can Get You to the Finish Line.” Enjoy!
My father and I do the Sudoku puzzle together when I’m visiting him, and each time I have to pick the whole thing back up and get my brain back in “Sudoku-mode.” By the time I leave, I’m back in the groove but it takes days for that to happen.
So, I decided to do the puzzles– the New York Times has Easy, Medium, and Hard levels– daily in order to keep up my skills between visits.
As I’ve been playing with this number puzzle, what I noticed was the importance of a break.
Getting Through the Puzzle
I can finish the Easy one in just a few minutes. However, the jump to the Medium is like night and day.
For a long time, I would hit a wall and just stare at my phone for the better part of an hour before giving up.
I thought I’d never get through this particular block.
And then, one day, I set the Sudoku aside and went to go do something else.
After several hours, I returned and was able to finish the Medium level Sudoku.
Don’t even ask about the Hard level– Ugh!
Over the following days, I was able to repeat my success…but only if I took a break in the middle of the puzzle.
Making Progress with My Writing
The same thing works with my writing.
As long as I separate each draft with at least an hour of working on another project or just taking some time off, I continue to make progress.
And the practice is even more effective if I separate the drafts with a day of break time.
So that’s my creativity exercise for you this month.
Take a break
Though I can hear the folks in the back yelling, “Doesn’t this encourage procrastination?”
Not if you return to the work and persist.
Consider this time away part of the gestation of your art, rather than an avoidance.
Why does it work?
Once you’ve struggled a bit with the problem, your brain continues to work on the project even when you’ve put it aside. When you take time off, new stimuli and patterns begin to be introduced while your mind processes the issue you’re confronting.
Taking the pressure off in this way allows your brain to integrate this new information to solve the problem without your conscious mind getting in the way.
When you return to the work, relax and begin to write.
Most often, you’ll have new words pop up. The perfect metaphor slides in. The tangled web of plotlines suddenly starts to glisten and show you the path through.
While it doesn’t always work– What does? Please let me know!– taking time away from your work at least gives you space to rest.
These small moments support you like a stop for a sip of water in the shade on a long walk and give you the energy to persist to the finish line.
Are you wrestling with a particularly difficult plot twist and can’t seem to make it work?
Sleep on it.
Are you trying to decide if a remark should come from your character’s mother or their sister?
Walk away, Renee.
Are you tussling with your bio for the book jacket?
Write your rough draft and then enjoy teatime before editing.
While you sleep or take a walk or do other things, your mind continues to work on the problem.
It just can’t help it!
Take a break. You’ll be glad you did.
ABOUT THE BOOK REVIEWER
As a creativity & business coach, she believes that exploring your creativity invites joy into your life, embracing your creativity infuses your life with joy, and manifesting your creativity gives you a joyous purpose. Writing and knitting are her non-negotiable mediums, and she can usually be found with a pen or knitting needles in her hands.
Find her free guide, Tricking Yourself into a Creative Habit online at labourgeois.biz and start writing those words today. She can’t wait to read them!