There’s a part of my writing process that involves not writing. And not only is it not writing, but it’s not doing much of anything productive at all. It’s not doing dishes and not doing laundry and not vacuuming. It’s not paying bills and not mowing the lawn and not going grocery shopping. It is basically sitting on my butt and reading, or watching movies, or playing Scramble on my phone until my thumb starts to hurt.

This, for me, is the hardest part of writing, because even though I know I need it, I have a really hard time justifying it to myself. I need downtime to be productive. I need to clear my head and give things time to percolate. I’ve come to recognize this as a part of my process. But I still feel guilty when J comes home after a long day of work, to do more work, and I’m like, “Sorry there’s a mess in the kitchen, and we have no food, but I had to watch Henry decapitate people for two hours today and there just wasn’t time.” Thankfully, J is incredibly understanding and supportive. When I’m done with this round of rewrites, I’m totally going to start buying food again, so he doesn’t waste away to nothing.

I guess, no matter what we do for work, everyone is entitled to their downtime, right? No one can be productive 24/7, and if we don’t refresh, we can’t keep going. What do you do for downtime? Do you have a guilt-complex about chilling out, or is it just me?


  1. Yes. Yes. And Yes.

    Some of my best writing ideas come when I’m just sitting listening to music and suddenly I’m in my main characters shoes, feeling exactly how she is going to feel in the next scene.

    I am little ashamed to say that bars and cafes are where a lot of the magic brainstorming happens. I have to talk things through with someone I trust, it’s just the way my brain works. Luckily, my husband has a strong affinity for good beer, coffee, and story telling. I feel happiest in these moments (and panicked sometimes because I have to write it all down, quick!).

    It’s difficult not to feel guilty when we’re being un-productive, but at least we have blogs like this to share our crazy ways:)

  2. This is so true! It’s so hard to justify our downtime that’s still writing time to ourselves much less others. When the dishes are piled high and the laundry is stacked up and your mind is just on autopilot is sometimes the most productive time. Unfortunately, others don’t see it that way. I think it’s why many people, women in particular because we are socially conditioned culturally expected to be housekeepers and caregivers, who say “I’d love to write but I just don’t have time.” This is one reason I love, love, love Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.”

  3. Downtime is a necessity for me too. I think it’s a weirder situation when you work from home, too. When I’m at an office and need some downtime, I go talk to someone or do some Internet surfing. When I’m at home, I watch TV or read. It feels like wasting time, but it’s important for one’s sanity.

  4. I have problems with the concept of downtime myself. I always feel bad, as if I should be doing something else, but part of my realizes I need that downtime to recharge, even though I feel guilty. The dichotomy of the situation is not lost on me.

  5. I’m totally in support of downtime. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized how important it is to rest. Though we could technically push through and produce SOMETHING, I think we can produce a better something when we’ve taken time off.

    Downtime for me is (unfortunately) laying in bed watching tv. I keep a notebook and pen by my side and just scribble whatever comes to mind. I’ve come up with some of my best writing ideas (for blog, personal, and for work even) during those lazy times.


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