Three years ago, I refinanced my house so I could afford to take a year off to write novels. The goal was to land The Contract that would allow me to write full-time. That didn't happen, and as a result, I returned to my full-time job. It wasn’t the hoped-for outcome, but it was a good lesson in humility, patience, and whatever other karmic cod liver oil the universe has on tap for me.
I've been thinking a lot about that one-year reset because two friends of mine, both of them gifted writers, have undertaken a similar endeavor. Like me, they were both over-scheduled hyperachievers. Also like me, they're both struggling with the first couple months of their new lives.
I don't think one has to leave his/her job to experience this reset. You can find it in the backdraft left by the absence of anything important--the ending of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, a major move. It doesn't have to last a year, either, though in my experience, it takes at least six months for what you've been running from to catch up with you. It's really hard to stand still for that.
That's why many people rush to fill that time with something or someone. I spent the first three months of my writing year lost in social media, aimlessness, and the crises of family and friends. Eventually, the sense that I was wasting something precious won over the ennui, and I stood still long enough to set my metaphorical feet on the floor and let the monster reach out from under the bed and grab my ankles.
You know what happened? I realized I was the monster. Ha! Super Grover was right.
So, I wasted a few months, and then I edited, Kickstarted, and self-published the book of my heart, wrote another good book, read several, listened to my kids rather than rushed them from one location to another, traveled, dusted off the courage to tackle two books that I should have written a decade ago, realized that I am built to be a writer, and washed my heart clean. I loved that time, but what I love even more was that I gave myself such a wonderful present. I'm also thrilled for what this year has in store for my friends. They have no idea how amazing it's (they're) going to be.
Cheers to letting our monsters catch up with us.
If you’d like to practice in a safe space, join us at our creative writing retreat in France this June. Then, head to our writing retreat in California this coming August to find out how to publish your book!