I am writing this as I start a countdown to my summer vacation. I'm taking about a month off to drive to California and back. Hooray! (Fun fact: I've been to Ghost Ranch, where City Slickers was filmed).
I've done this before (and wrote about it before), but since I've seen a lot of freelancers chattering about "how do I take time off??" on Twitter, I figured I'd write about it again, specifically about how I prepared this time. I realize most people don't take a whole month off, but I hope that these tips can apply to whatever break you're hoping to take.
The trip: To and from Disneyland
The length: About a month, starting next week.
How I told clients: I just…told them! For people I write for often, they got a heads up in May, then another reminder at the beginning of June. I didn't make a big to do about it. I'm self employed and can do what I want. So I said "Hey, I wanted to let you know that I plan to be gone for all of July" and then asked what they wanted to do about potential assignments. Many of them shifted assignments around. For example, I write for one publication twice a month, so my editor gave me three assignments in June, and plans to give me three for August. Easy!
How I responded to incoming work from non-regular clients: By being honest. If an editor replied to an old pitch, or came to me with something they wanted me to write to write, I responded with either "I'm going to be gone for all of July. I can get this done before I go, but will that give you enough time to edit it before I leave?" or "I'm going to be gone for all of July, and don't have space in my calendar before I go. Can it wait until I return?" Often the answer was yes! Some said no, which I have to just accept if I want to take this long a period of time off.
How I handled lost income: I've done this enough that I just plan for it. Shifting assignments around helps, as does savings. I also don't let it gnaw at me. I could make more money if I worked more in general, but my business is at a place where I can do just fine without working around the clock, so I'm going to enjoy not working all the time.
How I'll handle work requests while on vacation: I made sure to remind editors (again) that I was leaving when I turned in anything this month. If there are any pieces I've turned in that I haven't heard back about yet, I have already followed up once, and will do so again before I go. If an editor comes back with a revision request while I'm away, well, they had plenty of advance warning, so they'll have to wait. I put up an out of office, but I'll often respond to editors offering work with a quick "hey I'm on vacation, I'll be back in August. If it can wait, I am interest; if not, I understand!" Again, a lot of the time, they're willing to wait.
What about editors who are mad you took that time off? And? I'm not their employee. They don't own me or my time. I don't need their permission. I gave regular clients plenty of warning. Anyone else who feels affronted by me, who again is not their employee, doing with her schedule as she pleases, can pound sand. And if someone I don't work with often doesn't have a back up writer? Then they should probably work on that.
If you want to see highlights from my trip, the best place to do so will be Instagram. I'll also be updating my book blog (because of course reading, including listening to audiobooks, will continue) if you want to sign up for email alerts there. Otherwise, I'll be back later this summer.
"To Much of a Good Thing" for Slate
"People Aren't Fleeing New Jersey, No Matter What a Moving Van Company Says" for NJ Monitor
"Embracing the Toilet-to-Farm Irrigation Model" for Ambrook Research
"How Community Banks Can Minimize Tech Debt" for Independent Banker
"22 Sci-Fi Movies to Stream in Any Universe" for Tudum
"Why are Women Still Leaving the Workforce?" for HR Dive
"How Companies Redistribute IT Work After Job Cuts" for CIO Dive
"Subcontractors Feel the Pinch But Still Expect Growth" for Construction Dive
"'A World Down Below' — Deeper Fishing Insights Lead to Better Tools for Bycatch Reduction" for Responsible Seafood Advocate
"The Ultimate Guide to Precalcitonin Testing" for Clinical Laboratory News
"How to Implement Family Inclusive Benefits" for HR Dive
"Progress on Pharmacogenomics Becoming the Standard of Cancer Care" for Clinical Laboratory News
"How Mentoring Connections Can Make All the Difference" for Clinical Laboratory News
What I'm Reading
Reminder that these link to my reviews of each book!
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrille Zevin
Hola Papi! How to Come Out in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, by John Paul Brammer
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Long Run by James Acker
Endangered by C.J. Box
What I'm Watching
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Succession and Ted Lasso. I'm lumping these all together because I watch the series finales close together, and I fell into all three (mostly) during the pandemic. I think Maisel and Succession did just fine coming out into whatever it is we're living now (because the pandemic is NOT over), but Ted Lasso did not. I don't need another season. Let it rest.
- Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets. None of what this family did to their daughters is all that surprising. What is surprising is that they weren't paid, even when they were adults. We're starting to have a big reckoning of parents who profited off forcing their children into being unpaid influencers. It's long overdue.
- I Think You Should Leave. Either you know exactly why this is excellent, or you would have no idea what I'm talking about. There is no in between.
- Burden of Proof. This docuseries follows Stephen Pandos, who is investigating the disappearance of his sister Jennifer, who was 15 in 1987 when she went missing. It's unique in that the documentary filmmakers followed him for seven years. I had no idea where it was going, which is unusual given I watch (too many, probably) true crime documentaries.
- Endeavor. A friend who is also an entertainment journalist asked me if I had any questions she should ask the folks at PBS about the new season of Endeavor. The only question I could come up with is…there's more Endeavor? Apparently I completely missed Season 8, which I've caught up on this week. I don't know how I feel about the depiction of alcoholism, but the third episode, which is an Agatha Christie-style "we're all trapped in this abandoned mansion in a snowstorm and one of us is a killer" was top notch.