This is my partner cat, being helpful and giving me advice on my line edits. Never mind that Stephanie Draven’s website is up on the screen. A girl can take a break now and again.
In fact, that’s my topic today in the How My Day Job Has Made Me a Better Writer series: time off.
I see a lot of writers on the internet saying things like this:
“It’s Saturday and the family is off to the park, but there are no weekends for writers.”
“Writers don’t get vacations.”
“It might be midnight, but I’m working because writers don’t have timeclocks.”
I’m sure you’ve seen it, too. Now, a lot of this is just toss-off stuff. People who are under deadline babble about all kinds of things. They’re kind of like the drunks at the bar at 3am, who’ve been there since Happy Hour, and keep arguing that it can’t possibly be last call. They’ve lost touch with reality. Don’t try to reason with them.
There is the syndrome of writers using vacation time from the day job to write. That’s something else entirely. Usually that’s a treat and a much more leisurely schedule than trying to get the writing done AND doing the day job.
My company offers us a very generous benefits package. They deliberately set out to create that for us. We get ten holidays, four weeks of vacation (if you’ve been there long enough), two personal days, forty hours of sick leave, plus another forty with supervisor approval. They are very good to us. And it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts.
It’s an investment in us as the primary assets of the company.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that, as a consulting firm, the company I work for has no product outside of the brains of its staff. We work hard. We work long hours, sometimes under grueling conditions with difficult clients. And they expect us to take time off to recover.
I don’t have to connect the dots here, do I?
As writers (or whatever discipline you’d like to insert here), our product comes from ourselves. Just as the industrial types have to sometimes shut down the factory for maintenance, we must give ourselves down time, as well. The problem is, writers are more or less self-employed. Nobody gives you a list of the paid time-off you can take.
Which means we have to do it for ourselves.
It would be interesting to know if any full-time writers do this – issue themselves a certain amount of holiday, vacation and sick leave. It would be an interesting way to keep yourself accountable. And to minimize screwing-off time, too. If you have a leave bank, then you could take the time off guilt free.
All theoretical for me right now.