Generally, writers should be…well…writing. But what happens when your stuck? You are confused on a scene, character, or your prose, all of these may be the tale-tell signs that you need some distance from your story. Even the dutiful writer may benefit from a vacation apart form the manuscript. You can still work. Brainstorming isn’t writing, but it is productive. Researching isn’t writing, but it’s productive. Pondering writing, but it’s productive. Reading writing books or even novels isn’t writing, but – you get the idea. Technically, we’re always writing within our minds, so you shouldn’t be ashamed if your taking time to contemplate your project because it’s all part of the process.
These frustrating periods are the very reason people join writers groups or have critique partners. Sometime someone has the answers because they are not as emotionally involved in you novel as you are. They may have run across the same problem at some point. Even if no one has any insights to help, you may get the motivation to keep going. These people are your cheerleaders, moving you forward no matter how immovable you feel.
When you reach those moments where you feel that you have dug yourself into a ten ft. deep hole, remember that you can always get yourself out. Sometimes the “just keep writing” mantra is the answer, but a good writer needs to know when a stronger game-plan is required to tackle the issues in their work. It’s never wise to take too much time away from writing, but taking a few days, a week, or maybe even two weeks could be the refresher that you need to be a better writer. Rely on others, draw from the life around you, and attack the problems with fresh eyes and clear mentality.