Why and How to Take a Writing Sabbatical

Happy Monday! I know that’s not a thing, but I so rarely pop in to say hi to you all on Mondays that I couldn’t resist. I hope everyone had a great weekend (we went camping!) and is feeling great about what’s on deck for the week ahead.

you can't rush something you want to last forever quote printable

Personally, I’m feeling fantastic about this week. And that’s because I’m changing up the routine.

I will be taking a blogging sabbatical for several weeks to do some much-needed refocusing and rebalancing.

This September I came back from our wedding and mini-moon blurry-eyed, blinking, wondering what’s next, yet still digging out from the to-dos that were pushed off for a year until after the wedding. We started a lot of sentences this year with “after the wedding,” and now that “after the wedding” has arrived, I feel like I need to shake off the head-down, just-get-it-done fog that’s been over me for much of this year. It’s time to resurface, look around, and get clear-eyed again.

It’s only September, but I’m already wondering where this year went. Maybe you are, too? Maybe you see the colors outside starting to change, but your eyes are pulled back to the computer screen before you can fully register them? Maybe you’re certain you don’t have time to stop and take a walk outside to enjoy the fall air? There’s so much to do, and walking isn’t very productive, right?

I hear you. I’ve spent most of the past year trying to maximize my output, and now that I’m finally over the hump and coasting down the hill, I want to hold on to that feeling a bit longer. I want a little more wind in my hair and a little less hunching over a screen.

a sabbatical break for writers

If you’re feeling that way, too, you might want to consider taking a sabbatical from writing, blogging, or other creative work. A sabbatical can teach you just as much as a work-packed month, and it will allow you to:

  • Recover from burnout and myopia
  • Reset habits that were whittled away by overwork
  • Reconnect with your purpose and your mission
  • Hear your own voice again, instead of the onslaught of online voices
  • Rethink what a good day looks like in a new season of life
  • Step back and look at the wide open map of your life, rather than just the foothill in front of you
  • Renew your creative well so it’s brimming again
  • Go walking in the woods without having to Instagram the trees
  • Sit quietly, not thinking about the to-dos on the horizon
  • Find your margin again, and to see what’s in those quiet spaces
  • Live in this current moment, not in the hoped-for achievements of the next moment
  • Naturally find your way back to those things you love, of your own volition

That all sounds well and good, but how do you go about actually taking a sabbatical from your creative work? Here’s how:

Set the intention. Make it known. Breathe deep. Walk away. 

I know sometimes it feels like we can’t possibly take a break from our to-dos and our ambitions, but the wonderful thing about creative work (unless you’re a writer under contract!) is that it can wait.

I always admired one of my first bosses at a publishing house because she’d often remind us that we do books, not life-or-death brain surgeries. No one’s life is at risk if things take a little bit longer. No one will be left in physical pain if we set our phones aside for a moment at dinnertime.

It’s easy to lose sight of that because, in our worlds, we think we’re the most important, essential ingredient to everything. But that’s just not true. Things will go on without you, and your writing will be right there waiting for you when you get back.

That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see writers make in their careers: they lose the long view. They feel like they need to accomplish all their goals, and fast, or they’re not doing enough.

But I want to remind you that your writing career is for life. It’s not going anywhere. And it’s not the sum of who you are as a person. Life is big, and you’ll miss all the little details if you don’t look up from your screen once in awhile.

So because I needed it, too, I made us all a free printable art print to remind us that we can’t rush the things we want to last forever.

If you need a reminder that you are much more than your daily word count, download this pretty + free art print and hang it in your office, frame it for your desk, or pin it onto a corkboard.

you can't rush something you want to last forever quote printable

Click here to download this free printable art print!

I’ll be off this space for a few weeks, but you can always email me at mariacooksthebooks @ gmail.com with questions, requests to cover certain topics, thoughts, recipes, or just to say hello. I read every single email you guys send me, and yes, I respond to them all, too!

Happy fall–I hope the cool air brings you all a sense of refreshment!

If you’re looking for other ways to rebalance this fall other than taking a sabbatical, try these ideas:

guided meditation for writers with anxiety

easy platform building for authors

How to get past writer's block

Or check out this great podcast from the bloggers and authors behind Young House Love: What Quitting Our Blog Taught Us.

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