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Should a Freelance Writer Push Through or Take a Break?

push through or take a breakWhen you’re writing and you get to a place where you want to quit, should you push through or take a break?

This is another of what I call a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question because there’s no way to answer it – not for everyone and not in every instance. Of course, there are gurus of various stripes who will insist the only thing to do is to push through no matter what.

This came to mind when I was listening to a business coach talk about being willing to “do what it takes” to be successful. The idea that I should be willing to do whatever it takes makes me a bit crazy. My mind always goes to the extreme. I wouldn’t, of course, be willing to kill someone to make sure my writing career was successful, or start a war, or cheat by plagiarizing someone’s work.

To be fair, that isn’t what coaches mean. I just wish they’d be more specific, but maybe it’s only writers who think of the extremes like that. After all, seeing possibilities is part of our skill.


Generally, it’s my experience that real self-care not only makes me happier, but means my writing is better. For example, I usually write in the morning, but this morning I had migraine symptoms. I know working at the computer is likely to make those worse, so I took some meds and went back to bed. The fact that I usually write in the mornings or that I usually produce both an article and a newsletter on Thursdays, didn’t mean, since I’m writing for myself, that I should have pushed through which would have meant a full-blown migraine.

On the other hand, I’m really good making deadlines, particularly when I’m working with a client. Making deadlines is also part of self-care for me. I thrive when I’m doing a good job.


Sure there are times to push through just as there are times to take a break. I don’t know about you, but I know when I’m being honest with myself about my work, and my need to take a break or to just get it done.

This kind of self-knowledge comes with experience I find. It was much easier for me to fool myself in my 20s than it is now.

Part of that includes recognizing that I’ll get different results when I push through or take a break. And it’s not as simple as realizing that pushing through means I’ll finish sooner and that taking a break means there’s work ahead of me to do. There are other considerations including things like the quality of the writing and my ability to work well the next day.

Push through or take a break?

Do you see what I mean about a how



{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Great question Anne. I think the answer depends on the situation. For me, it’s very important to do what I said I would do. So, if it’s down to the wire sometimes that means pushing through to meet deadline.

    On the other hand, self-care is very important. And typically the work I do when I am tired and overstressed is not as good and takes longer to do.

    For me, the key is to minimize the instances that I have to push through by allowing enough time to get the project done and starting early.

    • Great answer, Laura, minimize the times you have to push through. I like that.

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