I'm Back From Creative Sabbatical & I Have Thoughts 😁

Ev Chapman
June 16, 2023

I've been on a creative sabbatical for the last 4 weeks and it's been the best thing I've ever done as a creator.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the endlessness of creating content on the internet that we forget that stopping moments can be opportunities for momentum as well.

After all, life doesn't constantly churn on. There are seasons where things change & evolve. And so it should be in our creative life too.

And so in this first newsletter back from Sabbatical, I wanted to give some thoughts about taking breaks, overcoming the fear of going silent as a creator and how to gain momentum in coming back.

Why Sabbatical?

I've had a niggling feeling for a few months that I should take some time off. I felt like I was spinning my wheels. There was a lot of activity but I felt like I was going nowhere fast.

I was craving space. I wanted to turn down the noise. I wanted to go deeper into some big ideas that needed more time than a simple tweet or a quick video. I wanted to reset my compass & make sure I was even headed in the right direction.

And none of that could happen if I had to also balance the pressure of creating content & being 'on.'

So some wise people in my life helped me to give myself permission to just turn it all off & go dark for a while.

But What About My Followers, What About The Algorithm? Won't I Be 'Punished' For Inconsistency 😱

Honestly, I think what held me back from doing it sooner was fear.

After all, if you disappear will the algorithm punish you, will your followers move on and forget you, would my sales suffer?

And most of all will I even start again?

I've built so much momentum & consistency over the past 3 years. Would all of that be lost if I take a break? Turns out, like most fears - I was totally wrong.

What Does A Creative Sabbatical Even Look Like?

Everyone's sabbatical or 'rest period' is going to look different. But here are some things I did & learned that might be helpful if you're also craving that break.

Go Into It With Intention. I think it's important to know why you are taking a break. I spent some time journalling & writing about my intentions on the first day of my sabbatical. It helped me get clear on my why & that helped me define what the time would look like.

Decide on the activities you will pursue. Be clear about how you are going to spend your time. I knew I wanted to spend a lot of time writing (not content - just exploring ideas), getting clear on my messaging & getting clear on my online offering.

Don't be pressured by a return date. I decided not to put a time on my return date. A few people asked and I said... as long as it takes. Because it's the first time I've done anything like this I wanted to just leave it open to how I was feeling. Most likely when I do this again it will be between 4-6 weeks. That feels like a lot - but it takes weeks to just unwind your brain!

Take your audience on the journey. I didn't want to just blank out of the online world. So I wrote a tweet about what I was doing, Why & what to expect & I pinned it to my Twitter profile. Kind of like an out-of-office notice. And I gave myself permission to 'throw the garage door up' and share what I was doing & thinking in my notes. This is my main mode of operating so it felt normal without the pressure of 'creating content.' I just asked myself - is this interesting for my audience & then shared it.

Take time to work on your systems. I spent a lot of time working on my content systems, thinking about my content mix, and what I wanted my content to look like in coming back. I feel fresh & my systems are ready to work for me again.

Ease back into it. Coming back with a bang can feel like whiplash. I've spent my first week back engaging with people, writing some tweets - to get back in the habit & writing this newsletter. It's felt slow, intentional & juicy.

And What Did I Learn?

Slowing Down Speeds You Up. I have never felt more alive, more passionate, more excited about what I am doing than I do right now. Taking a break really does help you to hit the reset button.

Content just hits different now. I'm calmer, less reactive, more intentional & more connected to every piece of content I'm writing. And because I'm clear on my purpose, my direction & the kind of content business I want to build - I'm not worried about churning out endless amounts of content now. I'm going deeper into ideas.

No one forgot about me. My fears were unfounded. The algorithm didn't punish me. I've had better engagement on my posts this week with deeper conversations about my ideas than before my sabbatical. Which is what I have been CRAVING for months.

Forging A New Path: The Seasonal Creator

For a long time, I've felt the current creator model is broken. I hear too many stories of creators burning out. And why are we surprised? When we literally churn out content endlessly with no breaks - no wonder we break!

And so I'm going to become a 'seasonal creator.' Just like you're favourite TV show has seasons and then takes a break. I'm going to do the same with my content. Because you deserve the best of me - not just the spinning wheels, churning out content me.

So this week I kick off Season 2 of 2023. It'll run for 21 weeks and then I'll take a 5-week break.

I Did think about a lot of different time frames - short more frequent seasons with shorter breaks or maybe one long season and one long break? But in the end, I decided on 21 weeks because it's long enough to get a good momentum runway and a 5-week break means I can really dig deep, enjoy that time off and come back with renewed energy.

And I already feel amazing just writing that. There is something powerful about an end date. When I train with my personal trainer she'll always let me know how many reps we have left or how much time is left on the clock. It helps me understand how much energy to allocate to that moment.

And I feel the same about designing these 'creator seasons.' I can allocate & focus all my energy into these seasons knowing that I have an end date where I can rest & reset.

I'm pumped! And I have so much juicy stuff to share with you in upcoming editions, so keep your eyes peeled each week!

Ev ✌️

PS. I highly recommend thinking about building a sabbatical into your creator model - and please if you have any questions or want any advice on it - reach out!

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