There are different kinds of breaks a writer will take – There are what I call “staring at the wall” kinds of break where a writer has to sort out issues to do with plot, characterization, twists and turns, rationalization and logistics (I get these regularly, especially after I’ve managed to paint myself into a corner on some issue with the plot) – Then there is the “barrier” kind of break which is more a I’ve-had-enough-I’ve-lost-the-will-to-live writer’s block experience where ideas and/or motivation have completely deserted you (the nastiest sort – this kind of break is not refreshing at all, quite the opposite).
The former involves thinking exclusively on the plot problem and this will extend for as long as it must in order for the issue or issues to be resolved. The break might last as little as half a day or as long as some months. You cannot do anything else in this time period. You cannot “fill in the time” with anything that takes your mind from it – that means no reading, no blogging, no surfing the Net, nor playing games or watching movies. Those things might happen in the course of the day, but when you’re working on the issues, you find you have to get away from the computer and away from anything else that will distract you, which is why I call it “staring at the wall” or “staring at the sky”.
I’m not sure that one can really be called a break. It is in the sense that actual writing is not taking place, but certainly not in the mentally working sense. It is a progressive thing, but it doesn’t look progressive. You might get some work done at the computer, but whatever that is, it’s going to be peripheral to whatever those issues are and you can’t move on into the heart of the matter until that thinking is done.
The latter kind of break mention in the first paragraph – the writer’s block type – is well known and least liked. It too involves thinking, but there is desperation involved and a whole heap of stress, which I’ve covered before so, hey, let’s not go there!
Recently, though, I experienced a brand new kind of break (to me, anyway), a simple sort of break that involves – strangely – not thinking about writing or plot at all.