Most places you look you will see people telling you to power through when you don’t feel like writing. Writer’s block? Keep writing. Low motivation? Keep writing. No inspiration? Keep writing.
In general this is good advice. You need to keep writing when you don’t feel like it. If you keep putting writing aside because you don’t feel like writing, then you will never get around to actually writing. You can liken it to learning how to walk. Just because it was hard, you didn’t give up as a baby and because of that persistence you can walk nearly anywhere. (I will be making exceptions for most of the population in regards to Mt. Everest.)
However, there are times when you should listen to yourself and stop writing.
If you’re sick, then you probably should stop writing and divert all your attention to resting. On the other hand, if you are so absolutely bored while being sick that you have to write, then you have my permission to fight off boredom with the sword of words. Just be sure that you don’t tire yourself out too much doing so. This applies not just to physical illnesses, but to mental illnesses as well.
Along the same lines as being sick, if you have a headache, then put away the writing, especially if you use some sort of electrical device to write with. Give your mind and your eyes a break. The same thing applies to being too sleepy to write.
Whenever it’s harmful to your health, you need to stop writing and take a break. I know that a lot of writers, myself included, have daily word count goals or just really want to finish a certain scene or chapter at the end of the day. However, if getting those goals in damages your health in any way, then they’re not worth it. Seriously, your health, mental and physical, is more important than any word count.
Please, take care of yourselves. Your characters will wait and they’ll be glad you rested. For you non-fiction writers, I know you don’t have characters, but your chapters will be glad you rested too.
What do you do when you can’t write?