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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Real Writers Plan Days Off


Next week is Thanksgiving: do you have your PTO (Personal Time Off) plan in place?

When I was a wanna-be writer, I promised myself I’d write on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve. I saw all holidays, weekends and vacations as times when I should be able to write. Not surprisingly, I never wrote as much as I hoped and was never really satisfied.

Part of seeing myself as a “real writer”, a professional, was recognizing that writing is part of my regular work routine. I made commitments to write (aka, show up for Product Time) during office hours, Monday through Friday. I made commitments to NOT write on weekends, holidays and vacations.

(BTW: This is not an universal definition of “real writer” – it’s only how I defined myself as a writer and what works for me. Many real writers have day jobs and do need to write nights, weekends or holidays.)

However you define your writing work schedule, there will be writing/work days when you need PTO. Some PTO is planned – for example, I will be taking PTO next week for the holiday. Some legit PTO is unexpected – like serious illness, family crisis, emergencies or funerals.

The critical Attacker Saboteur will pooh-pooh the necessity for PTO (“You slacker! You’ll never finish at this rate.”) The cloying Enticer Saboteur will exaggerate the need for PTO (“I just don’t think I can concentrate today with all this sneezing.”)

Our best strategy with the Enticer Saboteur is to ignore it and power through. Our best strategy with the Attacker Saboteur is to ignore it and take the day off.

So how do you tell whether to power through or take PTO? If the situation is one you’d take time off from an office job that paid you to show up, take PTO without guilt.

Offices will be closed on Thanksgiving, so I highly recommend you take PTO. Whether you take one, two, three or more PTO days next week depends on your family traditions, your employer’s policies (or your self-employment policies), and your choice.

Whatever you decide, make the decision in advance. Don’t plan to show up for Product Time next Wednesday and then heed the Enticer’s siren call and wimp out on yourself.

Don’t plan to take PTO and then cave to your Attacker’s insults and expect yourself to show up for work at the last minute. And especially, don’t plan to take PTO, then allow your Attacker Saboteur to berate you for “slacking” when you do what you planned.  

Be crystal clear about your PTO plans – the Saboteur loves ambiguity.

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2 Comments on “Real Writers Plan Days Off”

  1. andthenwehadcookies November 17, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you! Always helpful to read your blog.

    Like

    • rosannebane November 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

      You’re welcome and thanks for letting me know!

      Like

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