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Take Some Time Off


After more than twenty years of writing professionally, recently I took a “sabbatical.” And I’ll be the first to admit that I did it all wrong. I just stopped on a dime and didn’t produce anything for publication for several weeks.

Recharging your batteries by taking time off is wonderful. Here’s how to do it properly.

Have a plan.

I’ve been known to boast about the plethora of story ideas floating around in my head, and I’ve never had writer’s block in my life. So I was shocked when all of a sudden I stopped writing. During this “sabbatical” when normally I’d be scribbling away during my commute to and from work or at the laundromat, I instead sat and stared into space. I realize now that I needed this nothingness. From now on, I’ll be responsible and plan for it in advance.

Keep everyone in the loop.

When I suddenly stopped writing for no apparent reason, I didn’t tell anyone at first—even those I owed work. Finally, I explained that I was not writing. Further, I expressed my fears that perhaps I’d written all I could write and it was time for me to stop. As it turns out editors and other stakeholders were very understanding. I continued my impromptu sabbatical, but this time with a much clearer conscience.

Know you deserve it.

I think the reason I never took a writing-free vacation before is because for my entire career, I’ve been trying to prove something. There are romance novelists who are so prolific they produce a novel every quarter year after year. Once I interviewed such an author who told me she can write 10,000 words in one setting! I wanted to be like her. Since I’m not, I felt I did not deserve a break. In fact deep down inside, I believed I should have been working more, not less.

My accidental sabbatical was a wake up call. I can’t compare myself to other writers. While I don’t write three books a year, I do write every day. That kind of dedication should be rewarded with time off every so often.

Return refreshed!

Since I had not planned to take time off, I did not set goals for what I wanted to achieve during the break. My goals could have been to get more rest or to just clear my head of all writing projects and their corresponding deadlines. I did both. And one day after about six or seven weeks, I just started to write again. I began a funny little story solely to entertain myself. This was the greatest accomplishment of all.

By taking time off, I rediscovered why I started to write in the first place. I did not write for publication when I was a kid. I wrote because it was fun!

Thus inspired I made several outlines and began to write articles in earnest again, keeping in mind my true purpose in writing—to enjoy it.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Leah Mullen. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Leah Mullen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Leah Mullen for details.

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