Saturday, September 29, 2018

How to Have a Guilt-Free Hiatus

I just got back from an awesome trip to NYC. The post I planned for today was originally going to be "Successful Travel Journaling Tips." But I didn't journal a single word on the trip. It was a true break and I don't even feel bad about it! I've tried to analyze how that all worked out so beautifully to help you plan for a guilt-free hiatus as well.

Everyone takes breaks differently. Some take a hard, cold break (planned or not). Others remain in and out through a busy season. And then there are those like me: stopping one thing to make time for another.

That's the special disease of multitasking for procrastination just to feel productive.

The ingredients in my own special blend of breaks are guilt and fear. Guilt comes because I have a good thing going and I'd feel bad doing something like making my readers wait longer, disappearing from my blog for a few weeks, spending time not getting something done, etc.

Fear comes in on things like worrying that I'll never want to come back if I stop, or that I'll forget what I'm doing, I'll lose the momentum I've built up.

You get the picture, and you probably have your own list of fill-in-the-blanks.

What I've realized is that fear and guilt go hand-in-hand with any project. That's just the way it is for me. So to finish a project, I have to get past all of that. Thus pausing only the project and still having the fears and guilt is not. a. break!

So let's hash out what my "fake breaks" look like real quick so there's a contrast for what I just experienced in NYC. Fake break:

  • still working one aspect of the story (I was supposed to glean details about NYC for the setting of a new story and hopefully figure out a plot as well)
  • bringing a laptop along to stay on top of things like blogging, emails, etc
  • making promises you don't end up keeping (I'll share pics every day, still post in those groups, still maintain blogging, etc)
  • taking accidental breaks and feeling like they're sufficient
That ^ is bad. Don't be like Abi. Don't take fake breaks. Deal? ;)

Here's what my "real break" in NYC looked like. Real break:
  • having a few bookish ideas flit through my head, but keeping the break (not the project) the focus
  • having limited internet and no computer
  • checking email and starring what looks important, but not replying to anything
  • letting go of my "I'll post pictures every day" idea when Facebook simply didn't like me and I was too tired
  • planning this break as a Friday-Thursday hiatus so I could prepare (scheduled a blog post and a few social media posts)
  • choosing fun and/or sleep over anything else
  • having lots to do so I genuinely had no time to think "gee, look at all this free time I could be working during"
  • keeping it short so that I can abandon things like email the whole time without any  repercussions
Yes, I still thought about my writing once or twice. I did post on Instagram a few times. But all of that was organic, and so it fit the break. There were zero expectations. It was the most freeing and exhausting trip ever.

And because it was a true break, I do kind of feel like I've forgotten how to follow the rules of the road (which don't apply in NYC), how to work, how to not eat bagoodles of sugar, how to write every day ... but I'll work it all back in a little at a time.

Basically, my brain took a hiatus. It doesn't matter what you're doing or not doing if your brain is still chanting write, write, write.

So yes, I started a new book in September as my "fake break" which fulfilled its purpose of keeping me writing something even if it wasn't Martin Crossroads. My real break was so much better than that even though it did put me behind on my goals and whatnot. Because at the end of it all, I have to enjoy some things without the need to write. 

And let's not forget I am self-published. I'm allowed to give myself a little breathing room. I highly recommend you do the same every once in a while. :)
How often do you take real breaks? Or are you bad about taking a bunch of fake breaks just to drag out the burnout process like me?

NYC was so much fun, you guys!!! I have a bunch of pictures up on my Facebook, but I can't wait to share some more because I did get behind. I saw both Phantom of the Opera and Anastasia on Broadway and I do have some great inspiration after seeing those, so time to think about my trip with my writer brain turned back on. ;)


  1. Sounds like you had an awesome trip!

    Back when I went to New Jersey for a week over the Summer, I had expectations of keeping up with my daily word count (which was 2,000 a day, at the time) and then I barely even touched my WIP, haha. (I had a lot of fun though, and that's all the matters, right? :P)

    1. Yes!! Haha, I hear ya. And yes. The fun is absolutely what matters. I mean ... who works while on vacation??? ;)

  2. I am the WORST about taking fake breaks. It's so bad. xD And oh my goodness, you saw Anastasia???? SCREAMING. I'm seeing it on tour soon, and I am counting down the days. :')

    1. Oh gosh I thought I was alone, but I'm so sorry you suffer the same disease xD YES OMW. Grace Anne. You MUST tell me once you see it. It was beautiful and I'm still singing it. <3

  3. This came at a perfect time!! It's so hard to take a REAL break and have absolutely no expectations for yourself during your break. I have to work on that these upcoming weeks :P

    I can't wait to hear about BROADWAY - that's so exciting!!!!!

  4. Wow, you went to NYC! Fun! I hope you had a great time there and had lots of rest. :D I've been there once, but I hardly remember anything since I was probably... 6? 7?

    Thanks for sharing! <3 (also Broadway... o.O)
    Lilian -


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