“Oh, that’s OK – you can just do the work when you get back. No rush.”
As a freelance writer, it’s lovely that my clients say things like this when I tell them I’m taking some time off.
But that still doesn’t stop the flutter of panic, as I grab my diary and try to find time for said work…
…whilst trying to ignore the pages I’ve blanked out for an entire week.
Part of the reason I can make a living out of writing is because I’m very good at turning work around quickly. My days are an ever-rolling conveyor belt of jobs on, jobs off – it’s a smooth, efficient machine that works incredibly well for most of the time.
So the idea of actively pressing the ‘Pause’ button on that machine, and letting jobs back up just so I can do nothing for a week, is scary.
I know what I’d say if someone else was telling me this.
“Everyone needs a break every now and then,” I’d murmur earnestly, tilting my head in concerned empathy. “You deserve some time off to relax and enjoy yourself.”
And so everybody does. But when work blurs with life so well that you often can’t see the join, taking a break is far easier said than done.
Particularly when you’re not actually going anywhere; you’re just planning to sit out in the garden with a good book, or catch up with friends and family you never get the chance to see that much (which is ironic, when you work from home and everybody else assumes you just do whatever you want, whenever you want).
“I could never just take a week off at home,” a fellow freelancer mused unhelpfully, when I told him about my ‘extreme staycation’ plan.
“I’d just sit there worrying, and thinking: why am I doing nothing, when there’s work waiting for me?”
But you know what? There’s always going to be work waiting…for all of us. All the time.
We just get to decide whether we want to be at the permanent mercy of it, or not.
Since I started my freelance writing business three years ago, I’ve lost out on new work each and every time I’ve taken an extended break.
The first couple of days back at my desk are always a tad hair-raising, as the glut of emails people were politely waiting to send start flowing in, and as I deal with all the ones people didn’t wait so politely to send.
(I know what you’re thinking: why don’t I just keep up with my emails while I’m ‘away’? But a break isn’t a proper break if you’re doing that, so I don’t).
No – I’ve decided that to ‘do’ a freelance break properly, you have to cut the ties. I have to trust that people can be patient, and that I can handle the return avalanche, as I replace any feelings of resentment for ones of gratitude…that I work with some really fantastic people, who are willing to pay for my skill with, and my lifelong love of, words.
In turn, they will get a more refreshed, raring-to-go me, full of new ideas, a sharper mind, and a renewed appreciation for my work, all ready to get back to the laptop again.
I don’t think that’s a bad exchange for one measly week of doing nothing.
(All I have to do now is push on through all the ‘I’m not working’ guilt, and try to enjoy it! Wish me luck).
There will be no blog post next week (gasp!) because I am away.
If you like, you can fill the hole I’m leaving in your Thursday morning by perusing my older posts, or even buying my book ‘Procrastinations’, which some people say is “the perfect holiday read”, and some others say is “a load of twaddle”.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
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