Writers: You Deserve a Vacation

Ms pineappleIf there’s one thing you fucking pen monkeys fail at consistently, it’s giving yourself adequate time to recharge.  You need a fucking vacation.  There’s no better way, according to science, to increase your productivity and be the best whatever the Hell you profess to be than to stop doing it for a while.

I’m probably the world’s biggest hypocrite when it comes to telling others to take a break.  For example, in 2014, I worked from without so much as a weekend from January 1 until I went on my Honeymoon in May.  Even then, I worked some… much to my husband’s dismay.  That’s why I’m taking this week or so off — free of work, free of care… tra la la.

And, so must you.  It’s all fine and good for someone like me to tell you to take a break, but when orders are coming in constantly and you have no fucking room to breathe the logistics get a little touchy.  That’s why I thought I’d give you some hints for making a real vacation happen.  Not a working vacation, not a partial vacation — but a real vacation where all you have to worry about is getting out of bed and drinking yourself stupid.

Preparing for a Vacation

I guess the biggest thing you’ve got to do before you can feel truly free is to sort out what happens to that mound of work while you’re away.  You’ve got some options, but you’ll have to figure out what each client would prefer and manage it from there.  For the most part, here’s what to offer clients for options:

Writing Ahead.  You can write blogs ahead, that’s usually not a big deal.  Start about a month before your vacation and squeeze a few extras in here and there until you amass a pile.  A lot of clients like this option, and it’ll give you a few extra bucks to pay for drinks with umbrellas in them.

Not Writing at All.  Sometimes, you’ll find that your clients are fine with letting their blog or sales materials miss a week or two.  If they’ve got good stats and a large following, it’s not likely that a small blip will make much of a difference.  Plus, they’ll save a little bit of money while you’re away.

Hiring a Ghost.  Most clients will not like this option.  Many, if not all, of your clients hired you for what you bring to the table.  They don’t want George writing for you, otherwise, they’d have hired him.  Using a Ghost is something you should discuss ahead of time with your clients, else bad things may happen.

Step Two: Disconnect

Turn on an auto-responder that gives your clients some way to contact another writer in your stead while you’re gone.  Trust me, it’s a great way to retain clients and encourage loyalty.  They’ll feel like you’re watching out for them while you’re away and the writer who fills in for you will be pressured to be totally on the up and up.  If you’re worried another writer will steal your client, you and that client have bigger problems than your vacation logistics.

Now, throw your phone in the sea, stop looking at LinkedIn, don’t tweak anything, don’t promise edits or anything else during your off time.  Just be off.  You’re not going to reap the benefits of a break from work if you’re bringing work along with you.  You might as well pack your fucking computer in your luggage.  Don’t. do. that.

Upon Your Return

When you get back, don’t be shocked if it’s total batshit bedlam in your office.  In fact, expect it.  Clients might just want to shoot you a quick email that you’ll see when you get back, or three or ten.  Depending on the number of clients you’ve got, the mountain of email may be enormous.

That’s why you figured in a few extra days for re-acclimating to life in the pressure cooker.  You did, didn’t you?  If you need five days, take eight.  If you need a week, take 10.  Trust me, you want to ease back in… we work in such a high pressure environment that the only way to get organized is to pretend you’re not around.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

I’m not saying you should lie to your clients, but when you get a stable full the troubles pile on.  Each client means well, don’t get me wrong, and they each believe theirs will be the only message you’ll get.  They have no idea that it takes a dozen small clients like them to keep a good writer afloat — and their email, plus the 11 others like it can kill your productivity if that’s what you find on your first day back.

So, check your email a few days before you’re supposed to return to work.  Organize the tasks therein.  Say some very unflattering things, drink some coffee and know that you’ve got to get back to work in a few days.  Try not to dwell on it, though.

That’s it.  That’s all I know about taking a vacation.  I ended up working through most of my Honeymoon, but I don’t intend to do that this year.  This year, I pledge that I will make the most of my vacation, I will not become a workaholic, I will do what’s best for my poor, sick, fucked up brain.