I don’t know how to take a day off

day off.jpg
Photo by Morgan on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Licence

It’s not that I never take a day off. I had 7th August off, and 2nd July, and 3rd June (I have a spreadsheet). Three days in three months! That’s positively hedonistic. But I didn’t decide to take these days off in advance. Instead these were weekend days when the alarm went off and I simply couldn’t make myself get out of bed, too burned out from working full time and writing when I wasn’t at my day job (August was actually a week after I finished working, but it was the day when the stress of losing my job caught up with me).

On these days off I caught up on hours of missing sleep, did laundry, collected the dirty wine glasses from my study, and generally tried to remember how to live like a human.

But James Scott Bell suggests over and over again in his books that writers are more productive if they take a day off once a week. This seems dangerously self-indulgent verging on immoral, to me, but he’s been right about most other things, so I figure I’ll give it a go. For the next four weeks I have scheduled Wednesdays off, even though this makes me deeply uneasy.

Now, what the fuck do I do with that time?

On a perfect day off I would have a foot, back, and scalp massage, an afternoon of cocktails on a terrace overlooking the ocean while reading a good book, dinner out, and then go to a movie (note: I have never had a day like this, but I’ll add it to my bucket list).

I can’t afford to have a single day like this, let alone do it once a week. I need to find free/cheap things to do. If it was January I’d head up to the local marine reserve and go snorkling, but the sea is still at winter temperatures here. I already walk every day, and frankly, it’s because one is supposed to exercise in order not to atrophy. I hear there are people who enjoy exercising, and I innately distrust them (except Katie. I trust you, Katie).

Malls and shopping are my personal vision of hell.

What I do for fun is write. As I’m writing full time until I find a new job, how do I relax!?

I feel like an absolute newbie adult at this point. Help! Tell me how to make with teh recreation!


4 thoughts on “I don’t know how to take a day off

  1. Anne Holland

    Ok, in my experience writing an be so enrapturing/engaging that most relaxation feels boring and you just itch and feel meaningless and stupid. So the goal is to find things to do that (a) don’t take place at your desk or desk chair because body must align differently on day off (b) are free or cheap (c) can be done alone if need be and (c) are also enrapturing in a creative or sensual way.

    Stuff that works for me:
    – housework but with very, very loud fabulous music on and random dance breaks
    – weeding or digging holes or berry picking (insta-trance)
    – flower arranging standing at kitchen counter, can use decrepit twigs or 99 cent parsley during winter and jars from recycling, doesn’t matter, completely absorbing and everything inside unravels and no I never thought I’d be that girl
    – playing Boggle with the tv in the background
    – laying in a hammock gently rocking while reading an excellent anything (in winter, I moved the hammock inside in place of the sofa I rarely used)
    – going for a walk or ride with an eye out for anything of a particular color – any color, pick on, keep score, freakishly relaxing
    – knitting while someone else talks who you might normally find dull (older neighbor?) anything rectangular with no fancy stitches will do, scarf, blanket, tree trunk cozy. Use the cheapest acrylic yarn, or put out the word you’re looking for leftover yarn from people’s projects. Little old ladies will give you bags full.
    – making a recipe that calls for an hour of chopping many things into little bits (salsa, soups, stews)

    Hope that helps. I’ve collapsed from exhaustion before, it’s no fun and getting over it is infuriating and anxiety-provoking because you can’t write or do anything meaningful for a week or more. Good luck.

    1. wow, this is great. Ok, I can definitely see the point in doing something other than seated at my desk. I used to do both embroidery and quilting,although I can’t knit, but now you’ve said knitting I’m thinking of all those knitting linkities on Chris’s blog each week. And the delectable socks she links to. . . but I could learn with tiny squares. And yarn bomb a local tree!

      Also the color/walk idea sounds like it would work for me. There a lot here to try.

      Thank you so much!

  2. OMG. I would be a WRECK if I was following that schedule. 😮

    But I really believe you have to learn how to relax – it took a couple years after grad school for me to be able to relax, because I was so conditioned to be DOING something all the time (usually reading, writing, or grading).

    Some of things I do to relax: go for walks, read, art journal, color (not so much since I started to art journal), knit, poke around in used bookstores (well, ok, mostly just Magers & Quinn in my neighborhood)…

    1. hmm, i don’t even know which used bookstores still exist in Auckland. I could visit some. Anne Holland also suggested knitting. I could try to learn: I’ve wanted to for a while thanks to you dangling tempting pics and links in front of me on a weekly basis. Gotta think about art journalling, but it would also be at my work desk and the temptation to just do…one…more…thing… might be overwhelming.

      The Magers & Quinn website is excellent. I already found a bunch of books I wanna read! I love that they hold events

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