Every year I try and take a writer’s sabbatical. First and foremost I take one because…well…let’s be honest…it sounds really cool that I take one. Second, I take one because it is the only way I can ensure that I have spent at least three days straight doing nothing that involved electricity and third, it allows me to reconnect with my inner writer. (deep huh?)
For those of you who have no idea what a writer’s sabbatical is, here’s the skinny…For 3-5 days each year I take to the road with my writing stuff (iPad, laptop, notebooks, pens) and I find a secluded place to do nothing but write. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a couple of communities who welcome people like us (writer types) and even offer a place to lounge while on sabbatical. The concept is to write. No television, no radio, no phone, no outside contact…just you and your writing.
Sabbaticals don’t have to cost a lot, in fact, if you have a friend with a vacation home, it costs nothing but gas and food for the time you are away but there are places that specialize in this type of activity. We have a place on Whidbey Island that offers a small cabin with everything you need for your sabbatical. I think it runs about $65 a day. But you don’t have to find places like that, just a hotel room on the beach or in the mountains will do. There are some rules to follow if you are going to make a sabbatical work…
- Take your writing – The whole point is to write, unencumbered, for several days. Can’t do that if you don’t take your writing with.
- No outside contact – I know, you’ll miss the kids and the spouse but this time is designed as “you” time so take it. I arrange to call home once in the evening to ensure that the house hasn’t burned down and that’s it. It’s a sabbatical…alone time…helloooooo….
- Prepare – You need to have the things that you need so that there is no excuse to break the sabbatical. You’ll need your writing, food, drink and the will to write…that’s all but if you forget the food, you will have to go get some and that defeats the purpose.
- The right mindset – A sabbatical is just that…a sabbatical, alone time with your non-electrical persona. If you check your e-mail and the news and your messages, you are no longer alone OR non-electrical. Stick to it, no matter what, the world will be there when you are done.
- You have to actually work – No it is not a writing sabbatical if you go away for three days and sleep the whole time. If you are bored, you are doing it wrong. Your writing should keep you busy. Ignoring your writing would be like texting while on a date…it’s just rude.
A writer’s sabbatical may be just what you need to get your writing back on track, to finish that piece you’ve been working on or to set the tone for the coming year. I like to take mine near the ocean but you can do a sabbatical anywhere at all just so long as you use it as intended. So what are you waiting for….make the plans to do one now and don’t feel bad when the family is grumpy because they have fend for themselves for a week…it’ll be good for them too.
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