The famous “day off,” heralded among the working population as a day to rest and catch up on real life,
is primarily a day to recharge and keep that spark to continue working alive. Despite the pressure on writers to write every
day, we are not exempt from taking a “day off” from our work.
Take one day out of your “work week” to turn off your computer, stop your research and spend your normal
“writing time” with family and friends.
Below are ten productive things a writer can do on their day off from writing.
1. Organize your clip file.
If you are an unpublished writer, use this tip as a means of sorting through your writing samples. As for published writers, your clip file contains all of your published work. Having your clips sorted out in different file folders or in folders on your hard drive will make it easier
to reach for those “relevant clips” editors ask for. The typical
work week can be too distracting or busy for a writer to take the time to put a copy of their recently published work into
its designated folder, so this might be a good thing to do on your day off. Label your folders with subjects such as “Parenting”
or “Writing” and use stickers or highlighters as identifiers, if you wish.
2. Take stock of your supplies.
The last thing you want to have happen is run out of ink when printing your requested article. Use your day off as
a chance to take stock of both your office and mailing supplies. Have an extra
printer cartridge handy? Enough mailing envelopes of sufficient size? Extra postage, pens, markers and paper clips? You wouldn’t
want to stop writing because you ran out of ink in your pen or miss a deadline because of insufficient postage. This tip saves
3. Make a list of magazines and publishers to query.
Keep on file a list of magazines to query for the week. A good idea is to note two or three articles you can pitch
to this magazine. Should the first be rejected, you can pitch your second to
them in your reply. This is a great way to focus your next work week and note what research you will soon be conducting.
4. Write outlines, character sketches and edit any previous writings.
Creating outlines for articles you plan to write is a good idea should an editor suddenly reply to your query that
they want more information on what you plan to cover. This will also help you focus your research. Creating character sketches for stories you plan to write are a great way to get to know your characters
better and know where you want to take them in your story. Finally, editing your previously unpublished writing can help you
look for weak spots, throw in some rewriting you forgot about last time and it also offers you a chance to get more ideas
for future work.
5. Jot down all of your ideas.
I can’t count the number of times I saved an idea for “later” only to forget about it. Ideas have
a tendency of disappearing faster than they appeared, so write them down the minute you have free.
6. Go for a long walk.
Enjoy a stroll down the street, at the park, at the zoo, museum or mall. Observe everything around you: the sights, the smells, the sounds and feelings. What are people talking about? What are children doing? How does the weather make you feel? Try something new, such as that Thai restaurant you never got around to visiting or
that hiking trail you always wondered about.
7. Chat online.
What better way to expose yourself to the diversities of the world than through the Internet? Chat with people online, even if it’s about nothing in particular. Visit a chat room you don’t
normally frequent. Pay attention to how people communicate with each other through this venue; what emotions are they sharing? What do they do to get your attention? How
do they communicate in ways that are offensive or annoying?
8. Catch up on reading.
Too often, writers spend more time writing than they do reading. And reading what’s out there helps writers
stay current, informed and enlightened. Use your normal “writing time” to enjoy a good book, finish reading a
magazine article or catch up on events with your local newspaper.
9. Pamper yourself.
Go ahead – spoil yourself! Spend the day at the gym, spa or ice
cream parlor. Indulge in a box of chocolates, your favorite flavor of ice cream or your favorite dessert. Play your favorite
music, give yourself a bubble bath, go get a manicure or foot massage, sing to your pets or play in the sprinklers with your
kids. You work hard during the week, so use your day off to take a break and reward yourself.
10. Make a list.
No, don’t make a “to do” list. Make a list about yourself; what do you like about yourself? What do you hope to someday change? How
do you feel about your accomplishments? Do you feel happy with your life? How do you feel about those around you? Write
down anything that comes to mind then store these lists in a safe place for future reading.
The reminder to write every day can turn into stressful pressure for the average writer. Don’t feel guilty about
taking a day off from writing; you are doing yourself and your sense of creativity a huge favor. The day will soon end and
it will again be time to pull out that notebook or turn on the computer. Only this time, you will feel more refreshed and
your creative spark will stay alive.
Dana Mitchells is the Internet pen name of the writer Dawn Colclasure. She is a former weekly writer for the former
e-zine, Griper, and she has a poetry chapbook, Take My Hand, available from Amazon.com. Her work can also be found on Ten
Thousand Monkeys (http://www.tenthousandmonkeys.com/023/023dm.htm), E-Fido (http://e-fido.net/archives/050101/working_dogs050101_1.html) and Absolute Write (http://absolutewrite.com/fun/great_speech.htm). Her Web site is at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com She lives with her husband and daughter in Oregon.