The Necessity of Mental Layovers in Your Writing Career

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

This past September I flew to Dallas, Texas for the annual ACFW Conference. I didn’t have a direct flight and found myself spending several hours during a layover in a different airport. As I waited for my flight, I used the public Wi-Fi and caught up on social media, sorted through email, people watched, and enjoyed reading a new book. I needed that time for a mental layover to simply relax.

The months leading up to the conference had been full of changes. I’d left a nineteen-year career to become the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy and then our oldest son moved to a new city three hours from us to start a new career. While these were fantastic changes, they took a lot of planning, training, and mental energy, leaving me feeling fatigued and needing a break.

As I relaxed in that padded chair, I realized the importance of mental layovers in our lives. Direct flights are great timesavers—one flight saves you the hassle of deplaning, waiting, and boarding a different flight to reach your final destination. However, they aren’t always available, so planes must land to let off passengers, then refuel for the next flight. Layovers allow passengers a chance to stretch their legs, catch their breath and maybe grab something to eat.

Writers need mental layovers in their lives. When we’re juggling family, church, work, friends, sporting activities, school functions and trying to meet deadlines, we can become exhausted very quickly.

We need to schedule layovers in our daily planning so we can refuel our bodies and our minds. We need to learn to delegate, say no and prioritize our commitments. We need to take time to enjoy our surroundings and reflect.

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However, that’s very difficult to do, especially when busy holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas fall in the middle of our deadlines. So, how are writers supposed to find time for a mental layover?

Here are my three suggestions:

  1. Intentional planning. Write in all of your commitments on your calendar, and then figure out your daily to-do lists, deadlines, daily word count goals, etc. Look for blocks of white space and schedule in a mental layover. That intentional planning could be something as simple as a twenty-minute cat nap, reading the paper or good book with a favorite cup of coffee or tea, journaling, or even watching a favorite TV show. Whatever it is, make it intentional—something that gives your body and spirit time to rest.
  2. Nourish your body. Are you so busy that you’re grabbing a cup of coffee and calling it breakfast? Maybe dinner is grabbing something from the drive-thru on your way to your next obligation. When you’re in a constant rush and not giving your body the necessary nourishment and exercise it requires, you’re going to wear down much faster. Even though it may seem like “one more thing,” take time to plan healthy meals that will give you more clarity and more energy. Walking fifteen minutes a day will provide purposeful exercise for your body and your spirit. Taking care of yourself allows you the ability to care for others.
  3. Re-evaluate your commitments. During an airport layover, you’re confined to the terminals and limited to doing what’s around you or what you may have carried on the plane with you—reading, using your computer, visiting the airport shops, eating, people watching, or even napping if that’s your pleasure. Before the New Year approaches, review your schedule for the past year. Determine your priorities such as family and your career. Write in the deadlines. Create a word count schedule. Release unnecessary obligations in order to create a necessary daily mental layover in your schedule.

When you schedule intentional mental layovers for yourself, you’re taking time to rest and refuel so you can reach the finish line of your goals with better mental clarity and a renewed purpose.

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Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at