I have just come back from a two-week break, away from my writing life, after promoting my short story How to Get Hitched in Ten Days. Why? Because since I got published two and a half years ago, work has steadily taken over my life. The children are older teenagers so often busy doing their own thing at weekends… It hasn’t been unusual, for months, for me to work seven days a week.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job, which is one of the reasons I’ve been writing, editing and promoting 24/7. But over the last few months I’ve felt increasingly drained. Stale. Tired. So I decided to take a couple of weeks off – very unusual for me.
What did I do? Ooh, let’s see… I bought a new coat.
I baked – here are some cereal bars (dipped in chocolate of course!)
I detoxed and replaced my usual tipple with my new obsession: Costa Coffee hot chocolate.
I caught up with friends.
I kept on top of the ironing and cleaning for once.
I can’t believe it has only been two weeks as I feel like a completely new woman, up early, out on my bike, skin clearer, head not fuzzy and – most importantly – not worrying about so many small things that stressed me up when I was working all hours. Rejuvenated. Motivated. Fresh. Batteries recharged, I am determined not to overdo it again.
And I don’t believe this resolution will affect my writing output as I feel a renewed but newly focussed energy to push on with my next project. I’ve already started my new plan to fill my weekends with activities not linked to the writing world – apart from an author/blogger meet in a couple of weeks, but that doesn’t count as work! I’m talking the cinema. Shopping. Going for walks. All those things that have become rare events instead of much-needed breaks. That’s the trouble with working for yourself, whatever you do. It’s difficult not to get sucked into slaving all hours as you know that every extra minute spent at the computer might contribute to any success or, at least the next pay cheque.
So if you are a writer – or, in fact, anyone who is self-employed – take a moment to step back. Living to write had taken its toll. Now I think I’ll be a better author for writing to live.