When I first started freelance writing, I worked all the time. I know I’ve shared this with you in the past. I never took a day off work and would barely look after myself.
Part of me started working from home because I was fed up of relying on an employer to decide he wanted to keep me in work. I didn’t want to go back to a 9-5 slog, contracted to work 40 hours a week.
In the end I worked 80+ hours a week without even planning to. All because I didn’t take time off. This set a precedent for my writing and my business. When I did start taking time off, my clients were shocked and confused.
Here’s a look at three things I wish I knew about writing over the holidays when I first started freelance writing.
You’ll End Up With PITA Clients
The most reasonable clients will expect you to take time off work. They know that you’re not superhuman and that you want to spend some time with your family.
If you choose not to take time off work, you start looking like you’re married to your work. Your clients will expect more and more from you. Rather than getting reasonable clients who encourage you to take a little time off, you have clients demanding more work from you without the extra pay. You get the PITA clients that I’ve mentioned before.
Your clients start expecting you to work over all the holidays and not take time off your work. Your clients will demand that you get work done in an unreasonable time frame.
If you want to avoid all that, make it clear from the very beginning that you will take some time off. Make it clear that you will spend time with your family and you’re not a slave to your clients.
I Wouldn’t Be a More Productive Writer
There’s a common misconception that the more you work the more you will get done. This definitely isn’t the case. Writing over the holidays isn’t going to help you get more completed throughout the day.
The truth is the more you work the more you get burned out. You need to start working smarter not harder.
Taking breaks is excellent for your productive and I’m not just talking about the short breaks during the day. You need to give your brain time to refresh. Your body needs you to get away from the desk for prolonged periods of time. I’ve already shared that this month, so I really shouldn’t have to say it again.
But the truth is that even I tend to ignore that advice. I will work longer hours believing that I have to. If I’m not getting through my work in the normal 9-5 work day then I must need to do more hours to get it all done. I can’t possibly take time off!
It turns out that I couldn’t get the work done because I wasn’t working the whole day. I spent a lot of time procrastinating on Facebook and YouTube. Now I find that I do that when I’m getting tired and to the point of burnout. I’m not a productive writer, but I will be a better one when I take a long break.
You Won’t Make Less Money
There’s a fear when many people go self-employed. They can’t take paid time off.
I know this was a fear for me. I didn’t get paid for holidays or sick leave. Granted I didn’t get paid for sick leave in my normal 9-5 job, but I did get holiday leave. Once I went self-employed, I wasn’t going to make any money at all while off.
That realization led to the belief that I couldn’t take time off. We wouldn’t survive if I didn’t get paid.
Well, actually, I just needed to make some changes to my writing rate. The rate I set needed to be higher to make sure there was money going into savings. That money would be used for the weeks that I took off work.
I also needed to create some residual income. This way I could make money without being at the computer. This is something that I am working on.
Writing over the holidays isn’t a good move to make. You need to take time off and reasonable clients will expect it. The only clients that demand you work over the holiday periods are PITA ones or those that haven’t planned well enough.
Are you taking time off over the holidays? Will you arrange time off writing for future holidays? Share your thoughts in the comments below.