Step Away from the Computer…… (A top 10: Not Writing Can Make Us Better Writers)

Sometimes I see people become so obsessed with publishing, or publishing bigger/better/faster that they forget how much writing material they lose out on by not stepping away from the computer. And seriously, we NEED material 😉

So, I thought I’d put together another TOP 10 list of how NOT WRITING CAN MAKE US BETTER WRITERS 🙂

1. WE NEED BREAKS! – I’ve never been a believer in that authors need to write every day. Never. Ever. And don’t feel guilty for taking a writing break – it’s not actually a break if your break is filled with guilt.

2. READ – I know so many people who stop reading when they’re writing. Don’t do this for long, okay? Taking a couple weeks off of reading when you’re deep in revisions or drafting is okay, but do not stop reading. Read good books. Bad books. Books in your genre, and out. Current works, and classics. Published and un-published. If you care about continuing to write better, you must read.

3. MOVE YOUR BODY – I say this a lot when I talk about my TIMER METHOD of writing, but moving is just important no matter what. Moving the body, greases those tiny hamster wheels you have fueling that creative spot in your brain.

4. TRY SOMETHING NEW – I’m big into trying something that puts me out of my comfort zone often enough that I remember what it’s like to be a kid. These do NOT have to be big things. I’d never been good at making bread, so I slowly learned to make bread. Knitting, yoga, sewing, rock climbing, kayaking, vegetarianism… Big. Small. Every time I do something I’ve never done before, I get a glimpse into the world of the people who do those things all the time. This helps me so much with character authenticity.

5. FIND A HOBBY (or several) – I love to learn about anything. This really goes with the thing above. I’m a HUGE believer in that writers do not have to write about what they know. I think that doing your research and “trying something new” very often helps this. But imagine if you owned a rock gym, and climbed every day, and worked with climbing groups… Imagine the authenticity that could come from someone who wrote a book about a person who owned a rock gym.

6. TRAVEL – I know. Feel free to roll your eyes, traveling can be expensive, but have you ever heard of a stay-cation? I know so many people who stay at home and pretend they’re on vacation–do all the things that a tourist would do. I know this is random, but I soak up new little bits about the people and places around me when I’m looking at them through “tourist” eyes.

7. OBSERVE AND STEAL – People watch. All the time. Steal names, mannerisms, cars, personality traits…

8. FIND OTHER CREATIVE OUTLETS – I know, I know… TIME!! But seriously, if I’m working on being more creative, very often exercising that creative muscle helps with writing.

9. SOAK UP THE WORLD AROUND YOU – You can do this at the grocery store. Really observe. Try to see the world from someone else’s point of view. This is also a good idea to simply be a better human, but yeah, it’ll help with writing, too.

10. LEARN – Go to Wikipedia, or maybe even an old set of encyclopedias, books about things you’ve always found fascinating but never took the time to learn about. There are so many amazing things in this world that I promise you, learning WILL spark your creativity and in turn, give your characters and story lines more depth. And with the Internet and Youtube? You have no excuses 😉

So, there ya have it. Know when to step away from the screen and ENJOY YOUR LIFE. With the right mindset, you’re still furthering yourself as an author.

We talk about our writing lives all the time, so what are some of your fav things to do when you’re not writing?

~ Jo

P.S. I resurrected my BEEN WRITING? blog, where I mostly do short posts about craft, publishing, and maybe a few rant or two thrown in for fun 😉 You can find that HERE.

P.P.S. For those who are curious, the pic I used was taken on one of the low peaks in the San Juan Islands, just north of Seattle.