It’s been my experience as a freelance writer, especially in the beginning years, that there can be stretches of time between assignments that can be a blessing in a very good disguise.

Those gaps  between projects used to make me nervous, until I began to detect a kind of rhythm to them. A rhythm I eventually welcomed as rest. When the next assignment did come, I realized I was more energized for it than I would have been had I lurched from one project to another.

The word “fallow” always strikes me as a sad, empty word, until you realize the farmer’s field is left empty so it can be lush and green once again. I grew to see my quiet times (including vacation) as fallow time. Here’s how I learned to use it well:

1. Choose not to mope or panic. If you’re doing your work with excellence when you have it, trust that work tends to follow the excellent.

2. Read well. Take this opportunity to read good writing. Spend time in the library reading magazines you don’t subscribe to and newspapers that aren’t on your doorstep. See what others are writing about. Do a few article autopsies.

3. Go for walks and coffee with friends. Have long, uninterrupted conversations. Work in your garden (if you find that kind of intense, hot, itchy labour restful).

4. Take your kids out to lunch, one by one.

5. Clean out your office, wipe your white board clean.  If worry does creep in, send out a few emails and queries enthusiastically (but not so you sound like you are Crazy Lady) reminding clients that you are around and ready to work.

Enjoy time off. Time on will come again quickly.

(sad dog photo by Holly Stiller)