The Power of Rest for Writers
I’ve been making a full time living from my writing for over six years. I always have several projects going on at a time. I try and balance client work with my personal marketing efforts and creative projects. I also try and generate scalable income from my writing. Scalable income means I make money from the same piece of writing without having to create a new piece of work — such as writing books or writing on Medium. I write a lot. But, at the end of 2018, I decided to do something bold.
I stopped writing.
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I took two full weeks off of all my writing projects. I told clients I would be gone for two weeks. I turned down new work. I let my other writing projects sit idle. I even stopped writing on Medium.
It was glorious.
Now, I’m back. I’m fresh, and I’m excited to work.
The rest helped me recharge. Before I took a complete break, I was physically and mentally breaking down. My wrists and elbows hurt all the time. I was getting tired of the constant deadline pressure. I was having a hard time feeling creative, and it was tough to find the joy in writing I used to feel every day.
Taking a complete break helped my body recover. It gave me time to explore writing practices that are better for my body. It also helped me have time to think about what I want out of the next stage of my career.
I had more time to spend with family. I watched a lot of TV and movies. I read a few books. I listened to a lot of music. My creativity and my imagination were recharged. I was ready to create again.
The most valuable part of the rest was the new perspective it gave me. I’m busy every day. I earn a full-time income while also being the primary caregiver for our four children. When I’m not writing or marketing, I’m making meals, helping with homework, or driving kids to lessons. I love my life. But, there is little time in a day to reflect on my direction.
I had the chance to look back on my year and to look forward to the year to come. It was surprised by all of the new ideas I had for my career. I realized that I was holding myself back from greater financial and creative success because of fear and complacency.
I used the break to develop a new plan for the new year. I didn’t set goals or resolutions. I created a new vision and business model.
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All of this would have been impossible if I had continued to slog away at my regular work, only taking a day or two off for Christmas and New Year’s.
My anxiety levels are the lowest they’ve been in ten years. I feel like a new person. I still have a lot of self-doubts. I still can feel the anxiety lurking in the back of my mind. But everything feels more manageable.
I have been reading about the successes of some of my colleagues on different platforms. Instead of feeling jealous, I felt inspired.
The two-week break allowed me to reset my mental health. I now feel like I have the fortitude I need to make big changes to my business. These changes will make it easier for me to continue enjoying greater mental health.
How I Did It
I don’t have a “real job”. I don’t have paid time off. If I want to take time off, I have to plan for it. I spent most of the year saving a little bit each week so that I could take the last two weeks off without any worries. I was ruthless with my calendar. I refused to give into fear. I said no to everyone and to everything.
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I also planned not to go anywhere. There would be no big trips or even small trips. I wanted a break from stresses of all kinds. I spent two weeks at home and around town. I slept a lot and spent my days having fun and doing things to organize my space and my life.
I loved my break so much I am planning on taking more of them this year.
I realize that I am fortunate. Not everyone can afford to take two weeks off. But, as a writer, you cannot be at your best if you never rest. Everyone can take some time off, even if it’s just two or three days. You have to make rest a priority. Even just a short rest will make you a better writer.
There is no right way to rest. Many people would be too stressed not to write at all. You need to do what’s best for you. But, if you are serious about making a long-term career out of writing, you need to invest time and money into resting. This investment will pay huge dividends.
First Day Back
Today is my first day back. I already have a gotten two gigs, and it looks like I will be hired by two or three new clients today or tomorrow.
I woke up with a plan of action based for a new career direction. Being more dedicated to Medium is a huge part of my new focus.
Before I do any client work, I’m going to do the work I need to make my plan a reality. I know that the good vibes I’m feeling today won’t last forever. But, I’m going to dig in and do great work while I’m feeling great. I’m also going to rest more than last year, so that I can avoid any major mental health episodes.
Today is my first day back, and I’m ready to make 2019 even better than 2018 was!
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