The Art of Taking a Break

By Sarah Lynne Reul

If there’s one piece of writing advice I’ve heard at every conference and in nearly every writer’s article, it’s some variation of “Create Everyday”.

As a perpetual procrastinator who’s also a full-time, self-employed author, illustrator & animator, I can definitely see the benefit of daily ritual to overcome potential writer’s block. After all, you can’t edit a blank page.

I’ve (intermittently) loved participating in the 100day project.  Although it’s different from the work I create to submit for publication, it’s been satisfying to complete a daily act of creativity and to pay attention to the world in a slightly different way.

However, sometimes I get caught up in the world of to-do lists, and trying to squeeze some kind of work, creative or otherwise, into every spare block of time. Since I’m also a mom of two girls (3 & 7), time to myself is somewhat of a luxury. When I’m able to get a few minutes on my own I feel like I should make the most of it. Then I see articles about maximizing those in-between moments (writing while waiting in line at the grocery store, sketching while the kids are in the playground, etc…) and it gives me a subtle twinge of guilt – I should be doing more, making more out of my time!

Last week, our family was lucky to go on vacation to Plum Island, in a house that my mother rented for all of us – and along with all of the packing, groceries, sand toys, etc, I also brought along a bunch of art supplies and my very own vacation to-do list.

Photo Jul 20, 12 50 13 PM.jpg

But once I was there…you know what? I didn’t get anything done. And it was great.

Photo Jul 10, 4 00 56 PM.jpg

I recently came across this article from the Harvard Business Review: “Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure”.  I’m trying to use that concept as my new philosophy. In this workaholic culture, it’s nice to be reminded that a hardworking person can be justified in taking a bit of time off (and will hopefully be more productive as a result!)

My second run at the 100day project is currently stalled out day 70, but I’ve been recharging.  I have a pretty good feeling that once we get back to a regular schedule in the fall, I’ll be able get going again. New ideas for stories have been floating around in my head and I’m taking just enough time to pin them down… but then I’m sitting back to enjoy my family and friends, the shade of the backyard, and the wonderful craziness of summer with kids. And I’m going to make sure that I take some extra time to myself, to zone out a bit.

I know that taking some time off is often a luxury that is difficult to justify, for financial or other reasons, but I sincerely hope you’re able to find at least a little time to do nothing this summer, to sit back and let the world wash over you.

The to-do list can wait.

Sarah Lynne Reul is an illustrator, writer and award-winning 2D animator who likes science, bright colors and figuring out how things work. Learn more at



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  1. You’re so right. I often feel like I should be doing more when I compare myself to those who write daily, but in reality we should give ourselves a break more often. Sometimes other commitments get in the way of work and that’s not a bad thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! I am a neuroscience grad student and rarely take time off. Some of it is the nature of grad school but some of it is my own doing. Thank you for the reminder to take a break sometimes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Sarah. “Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure.” That’s a hard lesson to master.

    Terry Farish @terryfarish

    On Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 10:06 AM, WRITERS’ RUMPUS wrote:

    > Sarah Lynne Reul posted: “If there’s one piece of writing advice I’ve > heard at every conference and in nearly every writer’s article, it’s some > variation of “Create Everyday”. As a perpetual procrastinator who’s also a > full-time, self-employed author, illustrator & animator, ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Sarah. I tend to push hard and needed to read this, though when my not yet three-year-old grandson was here for two weeks, I had to take plenty of time off. But I got many story ideas out of watching and listening to him!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, YES! For some years I was part of an online art comunity that valued the notion of being a workaholic. The answer to every critique was “work harder, faster, stronger.” Sacrificing sleep and social life was seen as a good thing. It was gross, it was a culture of hyper-masculine competitive masochism.

    My best progress has always been when I set up a realistic daily rhythm of work interspersed with days off to rest and gather my thoughts. I used to feel guilty about those breaks. Now I see that they are necessary to my mental and physical health, and that my mental and physical health are necessary to my creativity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree! It’s hard to get away from that mentality, especially when you’re trying to fit in more freelance projects. But for the long game, taking real breaks makes you better (I hope!)


  6. I feel like sometimes I’m hounded by the idea of writing, that I SHOULD be writing- so when I give myself permission to relax, I’m able to do it again. So glad you’ve been able to keep it up since your last break!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was in such a slump for so long. Finally taking one month off of no writing what so ever, even if I wanted to, helped get me back on track! Since then (last September) I’ve missed two days of writing and am so motivated to just keep at it!

    Liked by 2 people

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