How to Improve Your Writing In One Counter-Intuitive Way

From Jeff: This is a guest post from Carol Tice. Carol is a blogger who helps other freelance writers achieve success. You can find Carol at her blog Make a Living Writing and follow her on Twitter @ticewrites.

Do you feel like your writing has lost its spark? Are you burned out? All out of ideas for blog posts?

There’s a time-proven technique for refreshing your creativity, but few writers seem to be using it. Probably because it’s the opposite of what you’d think you should do. But it works every time.

Photo of a Man Resting on a Bench
Photo credit: Xlibber (Creative Comons)

What is it? Here’s a hint:

The first thing you do with any electronic device you buy is read the instructions. Right? (Well, you should, at least.) If you’re wise, you learn how to program the gadget, how to use it, and most importantly, how to recharge it and keep it from dying.

But do you follow the instruction manual for you, for your life?

You may be familiar with the idea that God created the earth in six days — and that on the seventh day, he rested. This is all well and good, but when we hear this story, we may forget a crucial point:

We’re supposed to rest, too.

This is the instruction manual for how to operate your mind and body. You need to take time out of your busy week of creating and just be. What happens when you rest — truly rest — is nothing short of amazing and miraculous.

I know this because every week, I take a full day completely off of work.

I don’t check email. I turn of all electronic devices. And I don’t write a single thing.

It’s wonderful.

I don’t even think about working. (This part is important). Just total downtime.

And it’s how I’m able to maintain a busy schedule of writing without losing my mind.

What happens when you rest

What happened on that first Sabbath? In the Hebrew, God shavat vayinafash. Which literally means God rested and got a new soul (or got “re-souled”).

Rest literally renews your soul. We’re talking creative powerhouse potential here.

But in our 24/7 Internet world, the art of respite is often lost. It seems impossible to tear ourselves away from the constant Twitter updates and comments on our blog and posts we need to write.

But try this:

For 25 consecutive hours, once each week, do not turn on any electronic devices.

I know what you’re thinking:

I’ll fall behind! How will I ever get it all done?

But the Sabbath is the most powerful tool for renewal ever invented. One whole, uninterrupted day away from work can feel like a month on the French Riviera.

By developing the regular discipline of resting, you can take what feels like a month-long vacation every week of your life.

And it will transform the quality of your writing.

Tips for establishing a rest habit

Whether you believe in the Creation story or not, you can benefit from establishing a rest habit.

It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, though.

At first, it’ll seem like torture. Your fingers will itch to check Twitter. Your skin will crawl to visit your blog.

But keep at it. In a few weeks, you’ll wonder how you ever went at it seven full days a week. You’ll have so many new writing ideas, you’ll hardly know what to do. Your productivity will soar.

Why is this? Because you were designed to function on this schedule of work and rest. It’s hard-wired into you. When you overdo one or the other, you throw off your whole inner balance. After all, we’re not called human doings. We’re human beings.

Time to start acting like it.

Take time to be

Take some time and remember who you are. Realize you have intrinsic value. Without producing a single thing. And for one day, know that you already have everything you need.

Appreciate what you’ve already accomplished. Laugh. Play a board game. Go for a walk.

Take time to work on the things that matter most to you — your family and friends.

Remember: Rest feeds your soul. It clears your mind of clutter and rejuvenates your spirit. It brings you back into alignment.

And this is where you do your best writing.

Time to get started. Time to rest.

For more writing help from Carol, check out her online writing course to help freelancers make money.

How do you refresh your creativity? Leave a comment and describe your approach.

*Photo credit: Xlibber (Creative Commons)

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post were affiliate links.