Attacus Atlas & Other Inventions: Down-Time and Other Myths of Relaxation

I’m supposed to be writing about self-care and relaxation and the art of not writing. Um, I don’t think I’m in any position to give anyone advice about this.  I agree everyone needs down-time. I wish I took more breaks. When I’m stuck in my work-in-progress I usually go outside with my camera and take a photograph, or take out the dog for a walk. The fresh air and the change of surroundings ( i.e., not being glued to the chair and desk) usually work. Sometimes, I listen to music. If I’m super tired and really can’t focus any longer at the task at hand, I try to convince someone in my family about a new movie that’s just come out. We are a family of avid moviegoers, and usually someone is willing to accompany me to see the action adventure/drama/thriller/comedy that’s playing at 6:35 or 8:50. 

As writers, I think we are always working — whether or not we are writing. I know that as I cook, walk the dog, fold laundry, take photographs or drive, I’m thinking about my characters and I’m thinking about plot and backstory. As I daydream and muse, sometimes I get a good idea — and thanks to my smart phone, I have a way of recording my thoughts, and saving it for a time when I can do something with it.  Everyone needs breaks, and it’s up to you to decide what the boundary conditions of your breaks are: activity, duration, locale.

As writers, I think we are always working — even as we read. Often, the best respite is a good book and a cup of tea or coffee. It doesn’t have to expensive — it’s not a drive to the bookstore followed by a trip to a coffee house. Pick a book off your own shelf, one you love to reread. Fill up your kettle and find the tea in the cupboard. Find a spot on the couch, grab a throw blanket and take a break. Recharge.

Book to consider this week: Doodle Sweary Dogs: An Adult Coloring Book.

Author: Devi Laskar

Poet, photographer, soccer mom, VONA & TheOpEdProject alum, Columbia MFA, former reporter, debut novelist!

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