Take A Break
I know, I know, I already kind of talked about this in Tip Six of 6 Ways To Transition Out Of Writers Block, but I realized that I was going to dig a little deeper into the concept a few months ago, when I was working my way through the 15 seasons of the original CSI.
Which I have done and I can now proudly say that I have watched every episode of every CSI (yes, even Miami).
So how did I come to the decision to talk about taking breaks?
It came from this quote, said by William Petersen’s Gil Grissom in the first episode of season four, which first aired in 2003 and now lives on Hulu*.
“I need fifteen minutes to think.”
For those of you who either don’t remember or don’t know, this episode was ALL kinds of messed up.
Coming off the Gil-Grissom-Is-Losing-His-Hearing storyline, he’s post-surgery and in Beard Phase Number One (aka, the one that lasts until midway through season five when, surprise!**, he and Sara Sidle have been in a somewhat secret relationship for an undetermined length of time***.
For context concerning the importance of taking breaks, in this episode, couples are being serial killed by the evil married couple of Cameron and Mandy Klinefeld (No relation to Kleinfeld Bridal, aka that wedding dress shop made famous by TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress.)
Anyway, the Klinefelds are up to no good and it’s up to the CSIs to gather the evidence that will stop them, but it’s made difficult since they don’t have much by way of evidence that isn’t circumstantial, because the Klinefelds are super evil.****
It’s a race against time before the Klinefelds kill again, when Catherine Willows has an interaction with Grissom while in the motel room where a woman has been serial killed and her husband’s body was stashed in the ice machine. After sitting down on the bed and activating the ‘magic fingers’, Grissom tells an exasperated Willows that he needs to take 15.
See? Even with the fate of multiple lives in the balance, Grissom***** understood himself well enough to know that if he didn’t take a break, then he and his team wouldn’t be able to break the case.
So if a fictional character can fit 15 minutes into his immensely busy murder-stopping schedule, then so can you.
It especially helps that, unlike Gil Grissom and CSI, you actually exist.
So click the Continue Reading button for four reasons why taking breaks are good for your productivity.
1 Breaks Help You Think
There are few things better than taking a break to help you think.
Run into your arch nemesis Writers Block?
If you can’t think of what to write next, or how to solve a problem while at work, or a way out of whatever it is you’re doing, the best thing to do is take your mind off the problem for a little while.
Take a step back, take a minute or five and take a walk. Text your friends. Talk to your co-workers. Refresh your coffee/tea/water/beverage of choice—seriously, it’s probably gotten gross by now.
While you’ve distracted your brain with such a menial task, you’ll actually be clearing up space for you to concentrate on getting out of whatever hole you’ve written yourself into.
2 Take A Break Because Sitting Too Long Is Apparently Deadly
Leaving aside the fact that according to pretty much every study ever, everything is going to kill you dead at some point; per a great many studies, sitting is one of those things that it’s not en vogue to do for too long.
See also: the surge in popularity of standings desks.
If you can make it a point to get up once an hour, you’ll benefit both for your health, and because getting up means taking a minute or two to take your mind off what you’re working on.
And like Tip One, you’ll have a fresher eye once you get back to it.
Also, you know that feeling of pain/discomfort/strain that you get in your thighs when you sit too long? It you get up hourly, that’ll probably stop.
Have a FitBit, Apple Watch, or whatever other fitness trackers there are out there? Then you already know that they come programmed with hourly reminders to get off your butt. Listen to them!
3 Take A Break Because You Need To Stay Hydrated, And You Might As Well Stand Up While You Do It
This builds on Tips One And Two.
During the year I lived in Alabama (#Team14), I spent a LOT of time at the Target near my apartment in Hoover (shout out to the Target in Hoover for being one of the greatest Targets in the country******).
In one of my many trips, I ended up buying a 32-ounce water jug, because I was very thirsty, basically all the time. Probably due to sweating out all the water in my body because it was so.dang.humid out in the South, and as someone who grew up in the desert, I didn’t know how to handle that.
I brought the jug with me when I moved back to Arizona, but ended up downsizing to a smaller cup when I realized that getting up to refill it more often led to me getting up from my desk more often.
Plus, the downsized cup had the Finding Nemo seagulls and ‘mine, mine, mine’ printed around it AND an orange crazy straw, so there’s no way I WASN’T going to use it. This is why it’s awesome to have a parent who lives in the vicinity of Downtown Disney. Thanks Dad!
It ended up being a win-win, because I managed to get up hourly when I was at work, and even now that I’m living in my weird, post-traditional employment life, I still get up from my desk often to take breaks and re-hydrate by way of my Hawaii-printed coffee mug that I got in a Starbucks in Waikiki a few years ago.
4 Take A Break, Because You Probably Need To Take A Shower
Seriously, if you’ve been working long enough to get to this one, trust me. Save your work, save it again, make sure it’s saved in the appropriate folder, and then go take a shower.
Not only will you be less gross, but who doesn’t think of some of their best ideas when they’re in the shower?
Remember what I talked about in 4 Unique Ways To Get Inspired To Write? Yeah, Tip 2 is to take a shower.
So if you need to, and you want to get inspired, you should to that thing.
Like I said, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thought of scenes or ways out of plot predicaments or patches to plot holes or how to move forward from while shaving my legs.
And in case you were wondering, no, I still haven’t invested in a waterproof notepad yet. It’s on my list.
So there we go. Sorry it’s a day late, but life happens.
Check Out The Last Writing Tip Check Out The Next Writing Tip
Want more prompts? Check out the Prompt Library.
P.S. Look people, I know ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, but maybe you SHOULDN’T hook up with the serial killing swingers. Just a thought.
*Reminder, Hulu is still probably not your best source of background noise, I type with this episode of CSI on in the background for reference. It’s a good thing I have sources for you, isn’t it? CLICK HERE.
**Note sarcasm here
***Just because I don’t ship it doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge what a damn copout that was.
****CSI gets an A+ for casting Rudolf Martin as Cameron Klinefeld. A year later, Martin debuts on NCIS as Ari Haswari, who *spoiler alert* caps Season Two by capping Special Agent Kate Todd between they eyes. Still not over it, even though I know why Sasha Alexander decided to leave the show. Anyway.
*****Okay, the people who WROTE Grissom
Do you have a question about writing that you want me to answer? Leave a comment below! (I’m also answering questions in the Facebook group. Hop on over and say hi!)