In the mornings in the Bronx, New York City, I grabbed my laptop and walked over to a local Staples Office Supply Store, which offered free wi-fi and a desk to its customers starting at 8 am. I was hunched over my laptop from 8 am to about 11 am, right next to the fax machine, doing my normal writing work. I decided to write one article per day on this vacation. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that on prior “vacations” from teaching, I’d used my “free time” in order to double up on my writing work, writing ten articles in a week instead of my typical five. These were NOT real vacations, but re-allocations of my time from teaching to full-time writing.
For a few days in New York City, I also worked mornings in a branch of the New York Public Library. I’ve gotten so that I can work almost anywhere, anytime. I preferred the NYPL to Staples -- nobody was waiting in line to use the fax machine or asking me how much it costs to make color copies. Once I’d finished my morning writing work, I'd enjoy time with my wife. We went to Central Park, to eat lunch at good restaurants, to meet friends and family. This was the “vacation” part of my “partial vacation,” and it was great fun.
I must admit that I haven’t yet learned how to take a full vacation from my writing business. I suppose I could have planned things better, maybe accelerated my writing in the weeks before the “vacation” in order to have all my time off, but I didn’t do that. I could have also told my clients I was going on vacation and thus unavailable to take on new assignments. But I didn’t do that either. I said “no” to a couple of assignments clients offered me, mostly because I refused to write in the afternoons or evenings when on my partial vacation, but I offered clients my mornings and was soon fully booked up with assignments.
I was glad to limit my work. The limited schedule refreshed me, giving me time to reflect on my writing and my teaching. It’s so important to spend time with the people we love, our spouse, friends, and family. These people know us best and help to keep us grounded and healthy. These relationships aren’t worth sacrificing for any amount of money. Nurture your relationships because they help make you a better person and writer, and they restore you during tough times.
When I wrote on my partial vacation, I enjoyed it. Having so much free time in front of me made me smile and took the pressure off. My wife remained patient, until I got an unexpected offer when we were up in Maine. I had to spend time carefully considering this offer, which distracted me during some of my time with my wife. I ultimately made a good decision, but the unexpected offer led to some tension with my wife, which I regretted.
We were both trying, but sometimes patience is in limited supply. My wife, after all, was having a “full vacation” from her job, and understandably wanted us to spend as much time together as we could. I wanted the same, but was on a “partial vacation” (that's the problem with having two demanding jobs) and had something unplanned fall into my lap.
As a freelance writer, it’s not always possible to plan your schedule the way you want. Opportunities and challenges can arrive unexpectedly at any time, and I’m learning how to better cope with these moments.. Perhaps one day I’ll even learn how to take a full vacation from my writing, but I have a long way to go on that one. I'd need to negotiate skillfully with both my wife and my clients . . .
What has been your experiences trying to take a “full vacation,” my freelancing friend? Share your comments below . . . .