Our holiday last week was a break from two of my three jobs: the ‘working’ one that pays the bills and (unsually for me) the writing one that provides enough of an additional income to keep me gadgeted up. Even though that meant I was full-time on my third job – being a dad to our three kids – I’m feeling the benefits of allowing my brain to switch off fully for a week for the first time in nearly five years.
We returned home yesterday from a week’s holiday in France, where we hired a villa with old friends in the shadow of the Alps. That meant a week of remembering to drive on the other side of the road and squeezing an oversized people carrier (I’m convinced it had been on steroids) into underground car parks that were as tight as an average person trying to fit into a supermodel’s clothes. It also involved managing a chaotic house containing six kids without the aid of a sheepdog to herd them all efficiently.
However, it also meant having the rare luxury of sitting by the pool on a warm afternoon reading the Sunday paper. (Well, for 20 minutes, anyway.) And, for the first time in ages, I switched off completely from writing for the entire week too.
That’s a big thing for me. I started blogging in 2007 and have been doing so on a semi-serious basis since early 2010, since when the longest I have ever gone without publishing something is five days. Currently I run three blogs of my own and I’m also contracted to produce ten posts a month for the website of the Metro newspaper, for which I’m paid
a handsome sum. In an average month I will rack up at least 50 hours (6-7 working days) of writing, research and reading, and typically produce 25 posts totalling around 15,000 words.
According to Amazon, the average novel contains 64,000 words. That means I’m producing original content at a rate roughly equivalent to writing three books a year, on top of having a full-time job. I write a lot. And although writing is a passion, no matter how I look at that it still adds up to a relentless, demanding grind of output which affords little opportunity to step back and take a breath.
Not so this last week. I’ve had a proper break from work, which has been fantastic. But until starting this post, I also hadn’t written a word for (an unprecedented) eight days. I’ve had time to take that all-important breather, subconsciously mull over my priorities and allow new thoughts to incubate without the pressure of hitting deadlines or quotas. Consequently I’m full of ideas now and raring to go. The batteries are well and truly recharged.
The moral of this story? There are times in our helter-skelter lives when stopping for a moment is the best way to move forwards. Sometimes when you leave a flame unattended it dwindles and dies. But sometimes it also affords it the oxygen required to rekindle the fire.
After a week away from the keyboard, my writing flame burns more brightly than ever. Taking a blogging holiday is something to embrace rather than worry about.
So what was an already great holiday from a family and personal well-being perspective has had the added bonus of generating enough new blogging ideas to keep me going for several weeks. So, a very good week, then.
Holiday’s over. Time to get writing again.