I’m going on sabbatical

Sabbatical Stories. Tales from sabbatical leave. To capture what happened when I had 15 weeks to finish my Professional Doctorate. And to prove that I can write, even when I think I can’t.

For the past few weeks I’ve been counting down until 10th September 2018. For that, dear reader, is my last day in the office until January 2019. I am (pause for dramatic effect) Going On Sabbatical.


I first applied for a sabbatical leave around 5 years ago. I didn’t get it, and I was a bit miserable for a week or so. Of course,  looking back, the decision not to grant me a sabbatical made total sense. I didn’t really need it. But today, I do. I am grateful to have the opportunity for 15 weeks without teaching so I can finish writing up my Professional Doctorate (DLaw).

Going On Sabbatical so far consists of buying lots of new technology for my home office, thinking about decorating the walls of said office with enthusiastic “you’re brilliant” type lettering, and wondering whether we might ever stop using the spare bed in the office as a dumping ground for clean clothes we can’t be bothered to hang up.

punch today in the face

But I have also thought a great deal about how I might use my 15 weeks. You might imagine this to be a joyful process. So much time! So much space to think, and think, and have another think. Entire days free of interruption. Typically though, my brain has taken me to some funny places in the run up to my leave starting. Most recently my brain and I have been playing the What If game:

  • What if, on day 1, you can’t get out of bed?
  • What if you become so obsessed by the PhD you can’t switch off?
  • What if you don’t make any plans and end up with nothing to show?
  • What if you do make plans, but those plans are so ridiculous you end up tired and ill?
  • What if you lose all motivation and sleep/watch Netflix/eat all day, every day?
  • What if you can’t sleep?
  • What if you don’t finish what you set out to do?
  • What if you do finish, but, in doing so, return to the office in January a wreck?

There is one all singing, all dancing ‘what if’, however. The most irrational ‘what if’. The ‘what if’ that won’t go away.

What if…. you just can’t write?

I’ve spent the last week not writing. Because I had a funny feeling I had lost the ability to put words on a page. To prove this was not the case, I wrote this blog post. Right now, in fact, I’m wondering what all the fuss was about. Because I’m up to 684 words and haven’t paused for breath.

I have another funny feeling. I reckon I’m probably going to panic that I can’t write (or at least write anything decent) quite a bit during sabbatical. Too much time to think isn’t always great for ye olde anxiety. Writing blog posts help though. They help me work out what’s going on in my head. And restore faith that I can write.

So, this is the first in a new series of reflective blog posts called Sabbatical Stories. Tales from sabbatical leave. To capture what happened when I had 15 weeks to finish my Professional Doctorate. And to prove that I can write, even when I think I can’t.

























One thought on “I’m going on sabbatical

  1. pathwaytophd says:

    Scary thought, not being able to write, but I know when I’m struggling with say writing an assignment I divert to 10 minutes of free writing or a draft of a blog post since it all helps overcome the fear of not being able to write. Enjoy your sabbatical Elaine and I look forward to your series of posts.


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