A sabbatical leave is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the number of things you are working on and give some intense focus to projects that are particularly important to you. You are probably looking forward to reading more, writing more, and reconnecting with the research interests that brought you into this career in the first place. Though you may also feel overwhelmed or daunted by the possibilities.
All sabbaticals don’t look the same. You may have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish, based on the application for leave, a book contract, or requirements for tenure/promotion. Or, you may be going into sabbatical following a promotion, confirmation of your appointment, or completion of significant administrative duties. In the former instance, you are likely to be wondering how you will make the most of this time. In the latter, while you may have a plan for what you want to accomplish that may be accompanied by a desire to really think about your future direction and use this time to set yourself up well.
Just enough structure
Compared to the exhaustion of the end of a busy teaching term, the freedom to organize your own time probably looks heavenly. But most of us find it really hard to get things done without some structure to our days.
It is also not uncommon to have unrealistic goals for a sabbatical. One goal of your sabbatical is to rest and recharge, in recognition of the fact that normal academic semesters are very draining. Focusing on a limited number of things will help with that, but you also need to pace yourself. And you don’t want to get into a demotivating spiral of self-criticism about not meeting your own goals.
Transitioning from juggling teaching, committee work, administrative duties, pastoral care, and research to an almost exclusive focus on research is not easy either. Establishing a new routine involves a lot of decision making. And then at the end of your sabbatical you need to transition back, both emotionally and in terms of taking up those other duties again.
The Academic Writing Studio (£264 p.a. + applicable taxes, payable monthly) provides resources to address all of those things.
- Planning Classes (self-directed with a recording and PDF) help you set priorities and establish a routine.
- Review PDFs and monthly Studio email reminders to review and adjust your plans help you adjust your plans to how things are actually unfolding.
- Establishing a Practice class (recording and PDF) helps you recognize what writing practices work, and build on those to improve your practice. Also good for using sabbatical to radically rethink your writing practice.
- A Meeting With Your Writing is a synchronous weekly writing session that gives just enough structure to your week. You might even come more than once a week while on sabbatical and continue when you return to teaching.
- Planning Classes are also helpful for planning the transition back to your normal semester routines.
- Resources for selecting journals, dealing with reviewer comments, and other publishing tasks.
- Community: the synchronous Meeting with Your Writing, the electronic forums within the Studio, and monthly Office Hours provide just enough community to feel like you aren’t alone without requiring a lot of interaction that takes you away from your focus on writing and research.
Bigger transitions & individual support
If your sabbatical marks a bigger transition point in your career, or comes at a time when you feel like you want to step back and think consciously about where you are going and maybe adjust your course a bit, I can help with that, too.
Wayfinding combines reflective writing with a coaching conversation to help you articulate your vision, identify a course towards that vision, and set out the specific steps you will take over the next few months. We start with some writing prompts designed for your situation, and then follow up with a conversation in which we dig deeper. You will get a recording of our conversation and some email correspondence summarizing what we discussed and supplementing it where necessary. A Foundations membership of the Studio gives you access to all the asynchronous resources which you can use to support you in your new direction. (Fee: £450 + applicable taxes)
I also offer regular coaching, A Guide for the Journey, for personalised support. You talk to me biweekly to keep your plans on track, address the stuff that comes up, and ensure that you make the most of this time. We work together for 6 months and then review your needs. This service can also help you transition back into a full workload after sabbatical, especially if you want things to work differently than they did before. (Fee: £900 + applicable taxes, instalment plan available)