The Importance of Taking Time Off

Hi, hello! How are you?

As you’re reading this, I’m currently on my first vacation in five years. I know, it’s obscene, right?

I, unfortunately, struggle with the same unhealthy relationship with work that a lot of people do. It’s incredibly hard to pull myself away from what’s putting money in my pocket. But! I realize that’s not healthy. Over the past few months, I’ve been struggling a lot with burnout. The time has come for me to do something about it.

Let me rewind a little bit…

In November of 2019, I started writing my Dark Paths series. Home Sweet Hell was finished, including editing, on December 20th, 2019. I started Night Terror on January 2nd, 2020 – it was finished on February 21st, 2021. Then, The Way Ahead began on the 2nd of March and was finished on the 20th of September. Dreamwalker? 22nd of February, finished on the 24th of April. As you can tell, that was a lot.

I did all of this while still working a full-time job, meal-prepping, maintaining a Monday through Friday workout regiment, a social life, and a somewhat regular skin-care routine.

No, this isn’t a success story. This isn’t me gloating, and selling you a promise that if you “Do These 15 Things” you’ll unlock the key to productivity and success. This is me explaining the rapid descent I made into burnout.

So, what happened?

I have maintained a regular writing schedule, often with grueling turn-around times. I would spend hours mapping out potential publishing schedules, organizing them by “ideal”, “absolutely no life outside of writing”, and “glacial-slow.” I managed to keep myself squarely in the “ideal” schedule, which, for a time, made me feel capable. In control. Somedays, I felt like Superwoman. As if, there was nothing I couldn’t do.

Over the months, I realized that my batteries were no longer recharging the way that they should. Ideas came slower. I started loathing the time that I’d spend writing. Dreading it, even. I would spin around in my office chair, groaning up at the ceiling like Tina Belcher. And editing? I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about my writing.

It wasn’t bad. In fact, looking back on it, a lot of it was some of the strongest stuff I’d written. But I stared for so long at it, and worked myself so hard, I couldn’t see the forest through the trees anymore.

I was burnt out.

So, vacation.

Time off from work, hobbies, writing, cleaning. I need a break. Why?

Because time away from the norm will allow me to recover. To take a deep breath and just let things be. When I come back, I’ll be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to take on the world.

Business as Usual.

Will I go as hard as I had before? No. Absolutely not. I’ve learned throughout this process that if left to my own devices, I will work myself literally to the bone. The notion that work should be my life has been embedded in my skull for as long as I can remember. I always believed that if I worked extra, extra hard, I can make anything happen. What’s worse? It’s kind of true. But it’s certainly not worth it if I’ve stopped living my life to get to that point.

I don’t have any tips or tricks as to how to strike the balance and have it all. Frankly, I don’t think that the balance really does exist. There’s no way to work eighty hours a week and still have a vibrant, fulfilling life outside of it.

What I do think is possible is finding a healthier balance. One that allows for growth in all areas of one’s life, and not just the career.

I’ll let you know when I find it.

Until then, friendship, I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and have an amazing New Year! I will be drunk and somewhere very, very warm.

Talk soon!

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