I’m Lou Franco and this is episode 23 of Write While True.
The name of this podcast is a program that goes into an infinite loop, and that’s because I think of writing as an infinite game.
It’s like a game of catch, which is even more fun when you get better at it, but the only way to do that is to keep playing.
So in each episode, I’ll tell you something I learned about writing and then I’ll throw you the ball with a writing challenge or a prompt.
My unplanned break
On June 21st, 2021, I published episode 15 of this podcast, and then, even though I thought about doing another one, had plans to do it, I didn’t publish episode 16 until May of 2023.
We just passed the second anniversary of the break that I didn’t come back from right away.
I know exactly what was going on. I had a lot of travel to visit family and for work and it was just hard to find the time to plan and record podcasts.
Well, since it’s exactly two years later. It’s summer again, and I want to take another break. But this time I have a plan to take a break, but still publish on schedule and hopefully, not lose my momentum.
2021 was kind of new to me. I had just gone independent in March of that year.
Most of my career I’ve been at a typical job, working 8 or more hours five days a week. There were breaks built in. I was lucky to be in an industry and at companies that has good vacation time so I was able to take time off and not think about working that time—real time off. I didn’t have to worry because I worked on a team and they could easily meet the obligations of our department without me for a couple of weeks. And when it was over, I just went back to what I was doing when I left.
Planning a break
But now I’m independent. If I take time off and don’t work at all, then during that time, nothing will be done. That’s fine, I plan my projects so that’s possible. But for some things like this podcast or my blog, I’m willing to work on them even when I’m taking a break because it’s something I do for fun.
But still, having an obligation when I’m trying to take a break isn’t that fun. Like I said, two years ago it broke all of my momentum, and I don’t want that to happen this time.
So I’m going to spend the next few days recording five episodes that I can publish over the next month.
It’s the recording that’s the hardest part of doing this podcast. I’ll be doing some traveling, and I don’t want to bring my microphone. It won’t always be easy to find a quiet space.
Editing the recordings and putting them out on my website is not hard. I have checklists for that, and I can get it done here and there over a week.
To make the recordings, I’m going to be doing some of the things that I’ve talked about in past episodes. The first and most important thing is what I learned in Episode 8—I’m going to keep a low bar for these episodes—especially when it comes to length. I’m really hoping that I break five minutes on this one.
And I try to have a consistent message, like I talked about in episode 5. In each episode I’ll tell you about a problem I’m having and what I’m doing about it and how it’s going. I end with a takeaway that you can try out on your own. That’s always going to be there.
The other thing I’m trying to remember is what I learned in episode 11. To get quality, you have to have quantity. If I took a break and just had a theory of the podcasts I could do, that wouldn’t be as good as actually trying to do the five podcasts. Maybe by batching them together I’ll improve faster than if I had done them over the course of five weeks.
As I’ve said before, I keep a long topic list, and I’m constantly adding notes to each topic, so I have some idea of what I’m going to say. I just need to do some extemporaneous writing to get a first draft like I spoke about in episode 20.
Plan your next break
Here’s my challenge to you:
If you also publish on a schedule, it doesn’t have to be daily like I do for my blog or weekly like for this podcast, just a regular schedule, then plan for the next time you’ll take a break.
One easy way to do that is just take a real break and don’t publish. That’s ok if that’s what you want to do.
Publishing every day is a choice that you need to weigh against all the other things you’re trying to do in your life.
You don’t need to, but if you want to fill the space, rerun your best content. Or if it makes sense, get someone to fill in for you. Make a plan to restart as soon as the break is over.
For me though, I found that it’s easier to stay motivated if I stay on my publishing schedule. What I’m going to do is bank five episodes so I can take a break. I wish I had planned a little earlier (I’m doing this kind of last minute) so take that as a hint to start now and bank some content if you want to stay on a publishing schedule.
Thanks for listening. This has been Write While True, a podcast where we’re totally fine with infinite loops as long as they’re fun.