Erotica author, aka Elspeth Potter, on Writing from the Inside

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Resting, or Not-Writing

There's an expression British actors use: when they're out of work, they don't say that they're unemployed, they say that they're "resting." I like that for more than one reason.

"Resting" is an active verb. You're doing something if you're resting. In other words, if I'm not writing, I am resting. I am making an effort to not-write.

(Remember how I keep saying writing is all about psyching yourself into it?)

Things happen when I'm resting. My conscious mind might not be grinding away at a story, but I feel that underneath, story is happening, coalescing from disparate thoughts and experiences like a weird plankton colony. When the colony of ideas is big enough, they show up in my conscious mind, and that's when I "have an idea." So to get ideas, I have to rest. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Sometimes, resting seems to happen spontaneously. I don't mean that I suddenly can't write; it's that I suddenly don't want to write. My creative feelings are knotted together, and every sentence is a struggle, even if I know what I'm supposed to be writing and have a good plan for achieving it. When that happens, if the deadline allows, I stop. I put the writing aside for a few days, or even a week. I allow myself to read books (see yesterday's post!) and go out and socialize. It isn't the same feeling as when I've just finished a novel and am completely empty; it's more of a tense waiting feeling. That's when I know I need rest.

Once I give myself permission to stop for a little while, a level of tension vanishes. And when I go back to writing, my love of writing and of my story is renewed.

Related Posts: Synergy in Writing and Research, Reading for the Writer, and Shopping and Recharging. The Art of Waiting.


  1. I wish I had time for some 'resting' but luckily even when I'm super busy my sub-conscious just ticks on over new ideas and plot complications so that when I do sit down to write again stuff happens LOL

  2. I'm so glad to finally see someone who recognizes the value of rest. Rest is important with physical activity, the day job (if you have one), and with writing, too. An exhausted writer creates exhausted prose.

  3. I totally relate! I will start using "I'm resting"'s very positive and I'm going to be glad when the resting becomes "deadlines". I miss that word, can't believe I'm admitting to it.

  4. Kate, sometimes it works for me that way, too--it's like hyper-writing. If I had more deadlines, maybe....

    Jennifer, I finally just accepted that I needed it, after years of trying to go without and failing.

    Jax, I like the switching back and forth between "rest" and "furious scribbling."

  5. Good post! Resting is as integral a part of writing as refilling the creative well.