We all get long weekends sometimes, though for different reasons. It seems that a lot of holidays that used to float are now observed on a Monday in order to make it a long weekend. I know a lot of academics have a hard time regularly taking 2-day weekends. I’m betting long weekends are even harder.
When your regular work week is so heavily scheduled holiday Mondays can feel like time to write. You have permission not to teach, hold office hours, or schedule meetings. If that’s how you want to use them, remember that just because writing is work doesn’t mean it has to look like work.
That might not be your issue though. Everyone seems to have at least one long weekend in May. May also happens to be a month when a lot of people have a big stacks of essays and exams to mark. Taking the long weekend can feel like neglecting your students. It’s not. Rest will make the work of marking those papers easier and faster. You will have more patience and compassion.
(The same goes for long weekends in the Autumn. You will be a better teacher and better colleague when rested.)
Worried about maintaining your writing practice?
Write every day means write every work day. You can declare some days “not-work” days. Academics are entitled to vacation time. And weekends. Yes, it is harder to get back into your writing the day after a weekend, long weekend, or 2-week vacation. It is easier if you’ve established a habit of writing every work day. But it’s still hard.
Leave yourself breadcrumbs: At the end of every writing session ask yourself “If I could keep working on this project, what would I do next?”. Write down the answer.
Set a reasonable goal for your first session back: Your first session after a break (especially a long break) will be focused on refamiliarizing yourself with the project. That’s it. If you feel like you know what your next step is then you have achieved your goal for that session.
Time away from a project can be productive
As frustrating as it is to reconnect with a project after you’ve been away from it, sometimes that distance enables you to see things differently. Getting away from immersion in the detail of the next sentence can allow you to see the big picture.
If you have a fairly full draft of an article, chapter, or conference paper but are struggling with the conclusion, put it aside. If you’re lucky the timing will coincide with your vacation, or a long weekend. But putting it aside and working on a different writing project works just as well.
Support can help
If you have a writing practice, it’s easier to take time off. A strong habit can withstand vacation time. There is nothing wrong with you if you need a bit of support to establish and maintain that practice. And even with a regular practice, it can be hard to get back into your writing when you’ve been away from it.
A Meeting With Your Writing meets on Mondays. I hold it every Monday because participants live in different countries, and we don’t all have the same long weekends. Some people decide to write on their holiday Mondays (sometimes taking the rest of the day off). Sometimes a holiday Monday provides an opportunity for your partner to take the kids out somewhere so you can have some quiet time to write and have some nice family time over the weekend. Some people decide to take holiday Mondays off.
A Meeting with Your Writing also helps you take time off. Whether you’ve just taken the weekend off or you’ve had a couple of weeks holiday, the structure of A Meeting helps you to overcome the initial discomfort of coming back to your writing. There is also A Meeting With Your Writing on Thursdays. If you skip the meeting on a holiday Monday, you can come on Thursday instead. And if you are going away, you can come on the Thursday before you leave to make some progress on your writing, and maybe make a plan for your return, before you go.
You are welcome to join us. Or set up your own structures to help you take those weekends (long and short).
Edited 7 May 2018.