How to Enjoy the “Life” in The Writer’s Life

One of the greatest appeals of living the writer’s life is that we can work anywhere, at any time. Whether it’s a café in Paris at midnight or from a hammock in Ecuador … if there’s something to write with and an Internet connection, we’re in business.

However, in your excitement to kick start your freelance career, you might find that the writing part is taking up all your time, and the life part has been somehow neglected.

It’s totally normal and understandable … but it’s not necessarily healthy.

The benefits of taking time off have been well studied. Time away from your “regular” life—even one as exciting as the writer’s life—lets your brain relax by focusing on something new and different. Your body is replenished and your soul is rejuvenated. You come back to work with a fresh vigor. Your productivity and creativity are both renewed—not to mention your motivation.

And, they say the day before vacation is incredibly productive, so you can feel good about regularly scheduling vacations!

The best part about vacations is that you don’t have to get on a plane to have one. And it doesn’t have to be for two weeks at a time. In fact, you can take a vacation right now, today, if you want to.

Here are 5 steps to taking a real vacation. Follow them and watch your writing/life balance swing back to even!

1. Plan to take the day off.

Actively planning to take the day off means you’re giving yourself permission to not work. This should neutralize any guilty feelings you may have.

The worst thing you could do is take an “accidental” vacation day because you don’t feel motivated to work. That’s not a vacation—it’s procrastination. And at the end of the day, you feel terribly guilty for not having done anything productive.

Granted, every writer has days like these. But taking more regular vacations should reduce their frequency.

2. Let your clients know you’ll be out of the office.

Put up a simple autoresponder on your email that tells your clients you’re out of the office and will return their emails or phone calls upon your return. This is perfectly acceptable and no one will hold it against you.

This will also reinforce your decision to take the day off. If no one is expecting you to respond or turn something in, you won’t expect you to respond.

3. Distraction-proof your phone.

If you get email on your mobile phone, you can turn this feature off for the day(s) you’re out. Don’t check your computer email either. Not even a peek! You don’t distract yourself with vacation on work time, so don’t get distracted on vacation time with work.

4. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to do.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. You could simply take the day to read a book, eat popcorn and water your plants. But plan to do that.

You may find that without a plan, you’ll be so exhausted from not taking time for yourself; you oversleep or get sucked in to doing chores. Without a plan, you won’t get any real vacationing done, or you may feel that all you’ve done is waste writing time.

5. Do try and get out of the house.

If your office is in your home, beware staying at home for your entire vacation. Close the door to your office so you won’t be tempted to even have a thought related to your work.

6. Take a vacation every quarter, at least.

The end of every quarter is a perfect time to reward yourself with a vacation. Treat it as a mini-New Year’s Eve, with all the glamour and fireworks you need to make it something special.

Plus, knowing vacation is coming gives you something to look forward to and to get motivated to work toward.

On top of your quarterly extravaganzas, plan to take a long weekend or a single day off in-between. Just finish a huge project? Reward yourself!

The point is to take advantage of the flexibility the writer’s life offers. That’s why you chose it in the first place, right?

If during your vacation you find yourself feeling guilty for taking a break, remember this: you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. This is going to make you far more productive, motivated, and rejuvenated for the weeks following.

What are some of your favorite quick vacations? Let me know below, I’d love to try yours!

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Published: April 3, 2013

1 Response to “How to Enjoy the “Life” in The Writer’s Life”

  1. My favorite quick vacation may sound a little blasé and geeky, but I love to find a new coffee shop and hang out for a couple hours without the usual writing project. I'll read the NY Times and Wall Street Journal cover-to-cover, soak up the classical music and coffee aroma, and just relax. Leaving a $5 tip assures I'll be welcome in the same spot a week later, too.

    Steve Roller

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