Whether you are a Wall Street Trader or a pre-published KidLit author, finding a good balance between work and life is key to productivity. Included in that balance should be a healthy daily dose of sleep and rest. And even in marathon training, there are days of rest within the weekly schedule. Though it can be tough to step back and let go on rest days, it can be most beneficial in the long run.
I write this after a very busy weekend spent in Canada that found me stuck at the Toronto airport last night waiting for a severely delayed fight back home. Therefore, I am running on very little sleep...something that I have never been very good at. And as I sat at the airport gate last night I could feel my potential for productivity today slipping away.
Today I realize I am not going to get much creative work done on my WIPs, but instead of getting upset I want to focus today on how to add rest and sleep into the Writer's Routine.
- Keep a notebook handy. You might tell yourself that you are going to rest and not do any writing, brainstorming, or revising on a Rest Day, however its very hard to "turn off" the writer's mind. So, keep a small notebook handy. If any ideas come to mind on a rest day, write them in the notebook and then let go. They will be there tomorrow.
- Unplug. Many times "resting" means not even turning on the computer for me. Its too tempting to open up my WIPs file or to start and do research online. So, perhaps even for a few hours a day or one day a week, unplug.
- Crosstrain. In marathon training we crosstrain, meaning we use our muscles in a different way than running. In the long run it actually helps keep you toned and makes you stronger. So why not use your creative muscles differently on a Rest Day? Go to a museum, take a photography tour around your neighborhood, paint or doodle, bake. Do anything creatively that does not include writing.
- Reflect and Dream. Most of us need to be asleep to dream. So on a rest day, spend time thinking about what it will be like to open a box of your published book or visualize your first book signing event. Reflect on things that you have accomplished and celebrate how far you have come. And then dream of what is to come.
- Sleep. It sounds simple, but it isn't. However, you need to find time to sleep. Whether it means going to bed a tad earlier on a Rest Day or letting yourself sleep in a tad longer, you will be doing your creative-self a favor. It is said that Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the plot of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during a dream. And Paul McCartney said he discovered the tune for the song "Yesterday" in a dream. For more, check out Wikipedia's list of Anecdotal accounts of sleep and creativity.