Friday 31 January 2014

Taking a break

By Melissa Gijsbers

A couple of weeks ago, we took a long overdue break. We didn't go anywhere fancy, just down to a friend's holiday house on Phillip Island, but it was just what the doctor ordered.

Not only did we take a break from real life, I also took a break from writing. I did take my laptop and did a bit near the end, but I took a break from writing as well. The break was more taking off any pressure to write, edit, research or anything to do with writing. This break was amazing.

I learned a few things:

  • Taking a break freed my mind. I ended up jotting down a few story ideas that popped into my head while I wasn't thinking about them.
  • Taking a break helped me enjoy writing again. For a while, I was feeling that I "had" to write, instead of wanting to write and was feeling that everything I wrote was rubbish.
  • Taking a break helped me reconnect with my kids. Over Christmas, life was so frantically busy that we had lost touch with each other and having a break meant we could just relax and enjoy being a family.
  • Taking a break helped me edit. I'm in the middle of editing a chapter book. Having a good break from life and writing helped clear my head to see the story new so I could edit it with fresh eyes.
These were important lessons to learn as I've read so many articles lately that say in order to be a "real" writer, you must write every day. The amount and times vary, but not many of these talk about having a break from writing.

A few weeks ago, we had a discussion at church about finding God in rest. The biggest point made was to make sure we do take a break to recharge and refresh so we can continue doing His work. I must remember to schedule regular breaks so I can keep doing God's work, telling great stories, and being the best Mum I can be.

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne and writes in between working as a bookkeeper and being the mother of two active boys. In August 2013, she had 3 fractured fairy tales published in Teapot Tales: a unique collection of fairy tales. She has also had Christmas stories published in Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World, and Tales by the Tree: An anthology of Christmas Flash Fiction. Follow her writing journey at


  1. Great thoughts, Melissa. We live in a world where being "busy" seems to be an ideal, and where to be doing nothing is looked down on. Thanks for reminding us why we need idle time.

  2. Hi Melissa, I've always wanted to go to Phillip Island and I'm really excited that I'll have the opportunity to visit this year :) I also struggle to find the balance between work, writing, family and other commitments. It can be hard to rest when you know your to-do list is long. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the benefits of rest,.

  3. Oh that's so lovely you had a break! I couldn't agree more that rest is essential. I read a blog post a while back that said the optimum length of time for working is 90 minutes, then you must take a break of around 20 minutes. This writer tried it and found that it was true, and when they didn't take that break they were less productive, and more inclined to think what they had written was rubbish. I try to use this rule when I have a solid day of writing or editing planned. Really helps.
    I'm glad you had a proper break and it has resulted in the return of your joy for writing.

  4. I'm so glad you loved Phillip Island, Melissa. :)
    Some of my favourite writing days have been on the island, where my parents have a holiday house. And as the setting of my Phillip Island series, a place which draws me to write all the time.
    Writing on the island is amazing in the winter too! You should try it on a freezing, wet day. Different atmosphere to the good weather we've had this summer.

  5. Melissa, you are so right about refreshment. It's often hard for me to get away for a break but I try to keep a Sabbath each week by not firing up my computer. Interestingly, when my publisher (who was one of my referees for my current job) mentioned this, it was a clinching factor for my employer!

  6. Good reminder, Melissa. Sometimes we just need as a friend of mine used to put it 'not to do anything but just time to be.'


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