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I may have been one to tell you that, if you fancy yourself a writer, you had better be writing in volume daily. It is popular advice and, like most popular advice, it is worth nothing more than a thoughtful nod as it vanishes in the air. Authors say it because we are pushy elitists, but most of us take breaks where we just don't have it in us to write anymore. We let ourselves replenish, so why shouldn't you?

There is no shame is taking care of yourself. You are not a machine made to write but a human being with a thousand desires not fulfilled by a higher word count. You need downtime, you need inspiration. You need sunsets without your first thought being how to get the exact experience down because you are not having the authentic experience if you are so concerned with writing it.

You should write - of course you should - as often as you can stomach it. You won't get better if you don't practice and slough off the useless phrases you've accumulated like barnacles. You don't need me to tell you that. If you are anything like me, your heart beats insistence, your "lub-dub" sounding more like "write-now." You cannot properly be a writer if you only have wonderful thoughts you never share, though perhaps you can be a wide-eyed dreamer.

You are allowed all the breaks you need on your journey. I know how it feels like a foot race where so many seem to have passed you by, but they are not racing against you. We are all on our own paths racing ourselves. Have a snack, take in the scenery of this moment.

The world needs you writing. That means that you can rest from time to time. You can recharge so that you can have something worth writing again. In a creative field, especially one done for money, it is a simple matter to lose the passion that stokes your fire. Never let yourself feel guilt for taking a breath and reminding yourself why you do this. Writing should never be easy, so you need these reminders that you are blessed with a talent and the purpose to fulfill it.

As I write this, Amber is reading a half finished version of the next book in the Night's Dream Series. Though her notes will guide me to the finished product, one of the gifts this provides is a month or so where I cannot work on that project (though I admit to having made a few notes when a good idea spurted forth from the ether). In its absence, I have rediscovered writing the journal entries and essays on which I once honed my skill, the exact writing I ignore because finishing another novel is "more important." Rather than feeling stifled by the jungle of my novels' continuity, I can relax with a familiar form. I can play instead of treating the work I love as a chore I must daily grind out before I can enjoy myself. This is precisely how I enjoy myself, the physical act of pen to paper and fingers to keys. Writing ceases to be a burden and returns to a blessing. I can create something and share it with the world in a matter of hours instead of months.

The blank page is not an accusation. It isn't your enemy, staring back at you, daring you to create something. It is all the roads of possibility waiting for your first step. Take it when you are ready.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.

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