Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Own Sabbatical Simulation

With all the recent posts here at QWT about writing sabbaticals, I thought readers might find value from my own experiences with a sabbatical simulation.

Those of you who know my background from reading Casual Kitchen know I retired from a 13-year Wall Street career in mid-2008. Essentially I was planning a permanent sabbatical, and I hoped to spend the majority of my post-Wall Street career writing.

Of course, it's one thing to dream about quitting your job to write. It's another thing entirely to figure out if you actually enjoy day-to-day rhythm of writing, every day, for hours at a time. So, about six months before my hoped-for quit date, I took a one-week vacation to "try out" my new life.

I even did a "pre-pre-sabbatical" the week before my week off: I spent a couple of days mapping out a realistic routine for each day, my goals for the week, how much material I might be able to write, and so on.

Also, in the days leading up to the week off, I took care of some minor household details so I could dedicate an even higher percentage of my time to writing. I took care of the monthly bills ahead of time. I did several days' worth of cooking. I even tried, with mixed success, to get a bit more sleep than usual in the days leading up to my week off.

I did all of these things so I could focus all of my energy and brainpower on writing.

And I learned a lot. It turned out that some of my writing goals were too ambitious, Others weren't ambitious enough. I became more mindful of some of my procrastination habits. And I discovered that I needed to do a better job resisting various sources of daytime distraction--a problem we solved by cancelling cable TV.

Thanks to this trial run of my sabbatical, I was able to discover (and more importantly, fix) most of these problems in advance. It saved me weeks of productive time once the real thing started.