Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Connection Between Rest & Word Count

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

Take a break.

As you read these words, I will be chilling out on a beach enjoying a long-anticipated, and—dare I say it—much deserved vacation.

Now, it’s true that if you follow me on social media, you may know that I was just on vacation, but here’s the sad truth. It was a working vacation.

My family and I spent a lovely week in the mountains of North Carolina in early July. We are blessed with family members who give us access to a delightful home on a secluded lake and we have taken advantage of that for seven years straight. It simply wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t go to the lake for a week.

I look forward to these trips for a variety of reasons, but one big reason is because of all the reading I do while we’re there. In the six years prior to this one, I have finished a minimum of five books over the course of the week.

But this year things were different.

I had a book due to my editor on August 1. So, despite the fact that prior to publication I was one of those people who thought, “I would *never* write on a family vacation. Those authors should do a better job of managing their time so they can enjoy their family,” (clears throat) - I did, in fact, write 9,937 words while on vacation. (If I had known how close I was to 10K, I would have gotten there!)

Now I know some of you can write that much in a day, but I am not one of those people. I’m an organic writer and even if I have a pretty good idea of where the story is headed, I consider a 2K-day to be a huge success. 1200 - 1500 word days are closer to my sweet spot. 

When I looked back over my writing history for our vacation week, I discovered that it looked like this:
So I looked back a little further. In the days before our trip, my word count had fallen off dramatically. Despite the pressures of an impending deadline, the words were not flowing.

So I looked even further.

What I found brought things into perspective in a whole new way.

You see, June was a unique month for me. I went on an intense writing trip one weekend and by the end of June, I had written over 37,000 words. 

Again, that may be standard for some of y’all but it isn’t for me. It’s summer. My daughter isn’t in school. 37,000 words is crazy for me. 

And I was tired. I had been pouring out and nothing had been coming in.

But remember my word counts? Guess what happened between that 549-word day and that 2097-word day?

I read a book. 

I had only brought a couple of books with me because this was a working vacation for me. I couldn’t be goofing off reading while I had work to do. 

I can even remember my hesitation when I picked up the book instead of my laptop. I’m a notorious binge reader. I knew there was a good chance I’d read the whole thing and if I was reading, I wouldn’t be writing. But I couldn’t get this quote from Allen Arnold, author of The Story of With (which is fabulous—I reviewed it here)out of my mind  - 

We don't rest AFTER the journey is complete. We rest DURING the journey in order to complete it.

So I opened the pages. And I read the entire book. Half one evening, the other half the next morning. It was glorious. And later that day, I wrote a ton. And then that night, I started another book. And the next day, I sat on the deck of the lake house, scooted my chair right up against the wall to avoid the pouring rain and I read until the very end. I listened to the rain. I watched it hit the water. I did not take advantage of this time to write, but instead, took advantage of this time to take a break.

And then I got back to work.

The rest of the week wasn’t filled with reading, but it was filled with zip lining and hiking and it was definitely not filled with all-day writing marathons. 

Yet, my word count went up and stayed up. 

I don’t know why I was surprised by this idea that taking a break, even while on a deadline, might be the best possible solution. I shouldn’t have been. I’ve been here before. I know what happens when I don’t refill my creative tank. 

But I forget. And I’m sharing this with you because maybe you do, too?

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating being a slacker. I’m not suggesting you ignore your deadlines and hope for the best while you spend the summer at the pool. 

But taking a break before you write “The End” is not a bad idea at all. Participate in an activity you love. Try something that scares you a little. Enjoy something that brings you in close contact with nature. Those things are called LIVING. 

And living is an absolute prerequisite for writing. 

You may not have the option to run away to the beach or the lake or the mountains. Reading may not be your favorite way to fuel up your creativity, but find some time this week to do something OTHER than write.

Take a break!

Your word count will thank you.
Grace and peace,

The Connection Between Rest & Word Count - @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

The secret to fueling your creativity - @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released in June 2017 and her new Dive Team Investigations series kicked off in March of 2018 with Beneath the Surface. The second book in the series, In Too Deep, releases in November of 2018. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


  1. Rest is crucial to so many aspects of life. Thank you for connecting it to the writing life as well. Much wisdom here!

  2. The balance of reading and writing. The struggle is real, but thank you for reminding me that the two can play well together. I hope you're having a fantastic week!

  3. Perfect timing on your post, Lynn! I leave Sunday for 4 days at the lake and was starting to stress about my upcoming deadline. Thank you for helping me to reframe how I approach this time off in a healthy way.

  4. Wow, timely advice, Lynn. I struggle sometimes with juggling reading/writing also. Currently I am getting ready to attend a writer's conference and taking the day (before) off, to visit an old friend in my hometown.

  5. Great perspective and advice, Lynn. I'm also one of those 2,000-words-a-day writers, so writing takes time and I can get bogged down in it. Thanks for this post!

  6. Thanks for this great reminder, Lynn. Miss you. :)