In short… I overdid it last year.
I wrote two new books for publication in the first six months. Also during that time I expanded a previously written book by at least 25%, a lot of reference material for which didn’t really exist yet. Over the rest of the year, I wrote the second half of my first video game script plus the accompanying in-game documentation. I revised two — no, three — previously published books for rerelease. And I wrote an issue of a collectible magazine every two weeks, all year long.
I was tired, and things were getting harder, and there were kid things going on at the same time. And about a month ago, I realized that if I didn’t do something, things were going to go Very Badly, Very Rapidly.
So I reached out to the people on my local team to say that I was sorry things were falling through my fingers on our project, and, in the interest of transparency, that it would be a while before I caught up. And the next thing I knew, they’d voluntarily arranged time off for me.
I didn’t realize how bad I’d gotten until I burst into tears and sobbed hard for about ten minutes straight when the email landed in my inbox.
So I’ve taken some time off. Ideally I would have taken a full six weeks, but I was in the middle of negotiating a new book, which had a series of deadlines that needed to be met. So I took as much time as I could, thinking about the book and casually reading stuff now and then to get my brain juice flowing behind the scenes, and have started the actual writing this week. The deadlines are still close, but I’m not as stressed as I was a month ago, so it’s easier to handle them. And I have a full month to focus on just that, before I pick things up with my other project again.
Even that single month away from my desk and computer has done so much good. For the first two weeks I couldn’t even go up the stairs to my office because I had such terrible associations with the stress and overwork. The third week, I flitted up every day or so to grab something from my desk or my fibre stash then went right back downstairs, or played cello for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. The fourth week, I sat down and checked email at the desktop, tidied my desk, and spent time in my rocking chair spinning some lovely fibre, just getting used to the space again.
During my stress leave, I spun yarn, read actual books, played mindless games on my phone, binged podcasts, and napped. I did nowhere near enough yoga. Sometimes I just cuddled with my cats, or brought the rabbit out and watched him run around the living room. I gave my mind a lot of time to heal and didn’t feel guilty about it.
I’m easing back into the saddle cautiously. I’m optimistic.