One Freelance Writer’s Success Secret

During my wonderfully restful winter break, I realized I’ve given a lot of advice about how to make a living writing without discussing the one rule that’s really made it possible for me to become a successful, well-paid freelance writer.

So I’m going to tell it to you now. Fasten your seatbelts, because this one piece of advice will be the single most powerful thing I will ever tell you. This one has the potential to completely change your life.

Ready? Here it is:

–Every week, from Friday sunset until Saturday after sunset, I don’t work.–

Not ever. I turn off my computer, my phone, my celphone and whatever other devices are around that might lead to working. I am not posting on Twitter, updating my Web site, prospecting for clients, filing articles, or conducting interviews.

Even more radical than not working for 25 hours each week, during that time period I don’t thinkabout work, either. I don’t plan what I’ll do when I get back to the computer. I don’t talk business with friends. I slam the door on my business life and leave it completely behind.

Each and every week, I take a complete vacation from working. It’s called Shabbat, or the Sabbath. And it’s the most amazing tool for personal growth ever invented.

Without that time away to reflect, relax, unplug…we humans tend to just grind along, slowly getting more and more burned out. We don’t progress as fast. We don’t fully realize our potential.

When Stephen Covey made “sharpen the saw” one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he was echoing a timeless truth: we need time off to recharge in order to be our best.

There’s a reason we’re not called “human doings” but “human beings.” We need time to just be. To discover who we really are, apart from our ability to earn, meet deadlines, and take meetings. To simply marvel at our good fortune at being alive in this beautiful world.

I’m not trying to convince anyone to practice my religious faith – Jews don’t seek converts. But in today’s real-time culture of 24/7 connectivity, I’m finding it’s more important than ever to carve out a big block of time away from work each week. It’ll save your sanity, refresh you, inspire you, and make you a better friend, sibling, spouse, parent…and writer.

It may sound scary to take one-seventh of your time each week and commit to making it work-free. When people start doing it, they’re often terrified they’ll earn less. But the reality is you’ll probably earn more, because you’ll be so much more effective. Either way, I guarantee you’ll be happier.

Remember, nobody’s tombstone says, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

All I can say is try it, you’ll like it! Maybe for you it’ll be Sundays, or Mondays, or it’ll start in the morning, or whenever. However you do it, know that you deserve a day off. Take it, and see what happens.