We live in a day and age where everything is about productivity. Increase profits, reduce costs, sleep less, work more. There’s a cultural anxiety. We buy books on time management and how to get organized. We live in a perpetually caffeinated state just to create more time in order to be more productive.
For a professional writer, productivity is determined primarily by self-governance and the ability to focus. We measure our productivity in terms of word count and pages written in a day along with the quality of what we write. Rather than live and die by the clock like most professions do, we`re slaves to document size.
Rather than be told what to do in terms of tasks and duties, like most jobs, we writers must be in a perpetual state of creation. We have to pull words from our imagination and somehow group them together in a way that is engaging and at the very least, coherent.
Therefore, in order to create, we must make the space and time to allow ourselves to do so. As much as we may love the thrill and joy of writing, it does require mental strain to consistently conjure up words. Far too many writers hinder their creativity by not allowing themselves time to decompress. Space for yourself is needed in spite of the urge and panic of “being productive”.
That’s why it’s important you make time every day to be the opposite of productive. To do nothing mentally demanding. This even includes reading, because reading requires your brain to work. In other words, it’s necessary to be lazy.
How much time should you put into this non-activity?
30 minutes a day. 30 minutes is the optimal amount of time for your mind to decompress and recharge. Take a walk, nap, sit and watch mindless TV, browse the Internet. Just do something where your mind is on autopilot.
This seemingly wasteful time will provide two important things to optimize your writing.
1) Give you a Break
Think of your brain like a muscle. You don`t work the same muscle, day in, day out without taking some kind of break, do you? Your brain needs brain-breaks too in order to function at its top performance level.
2) Make You More Creative
By giving your brain needed rest, it will help you avoid writer’s fatigue and writer’s block. Practicing non-activity will also help alleviate stress, providing you separation from your work. A relaxed brain generates better quality content.