"Should I quit my job to write?"
On taking a creative sabbatical with Alyssa Jarrett
Cool confidence paired with an adorable headband.
That was my first thought when I met Alyssa Jarrett over a spotty video call—no thanks to the Internet connection in my fourth floor Saigon apartment.
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Our meeting agenda? To get the publishing rights to an article I wrote. She promised I’d get paid eventually for the piece; I shrugged it off, not thinking much of it.
But Alyssa followed through, offering me bigger projects as her company morphed into a tech unicorn. She turned out to be the person I needed in my freelance career, prompting my transition from email campaigns to long-form content when we (accidentally) created the most downloaded white paper in company history.
It wasn’t until she stepped down that I discovered she wrote romance novels—we promptly swapped manuscripts. Now I’m honored to introduce her as a friend, writing partner, and the first guest on this special audio issue of The Write-Life Balance.
On Taking a Creative Sabbatical with Alyssa Jarrett
ON WRITING 👩🏽💻 (12:45)
Because Alyssa juggles client projects with the writing of her romance novels, she usually devotes half of her day to each; relying on a combination of a paper planner and project management tools like Asana to keep her organized. She swears by Pomodoro sprints for drafting; and revises in 2-4 hour chunks. According to Alyssa, this is a vast improvement to how she wrote her first novel—which took her three years to draft while working full time.
Like most first-time writers, I didn’t have any sense of plotting, or structure, or beats…and you plod your way through the first one and somehow make it out alive.
Nowadays, Alyssa works with a professional developmental editor to hone her craft; as well as friends and writing partners to beta read her completed manuscripts.
ON LIFE (1:20)
Besides writing romance novels and consulting for B2B startups, Alyssa lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adorable black cats. Earlier this year, she launched an Instagram account to review her favorite nonfiction audiobooks and paperback fiction—usually centered on contemporary romance and women’s fiction.
ON BALANCE 🧘🏻♀️ (2:48)
Alyssa describes her quitting process as more of a medical intervention than a choice. After joining an early-stage startup as a marketing executive, she found herself managing a team of one (herself), with little to no resources. Combined with the insane amounts of pressure and her high bar of professionalism, she felt her mental health suffering.
Her original goal was to take a year-long sabbatical to rest and get to a point where she could nurture her passion for writing again. But it turns out the robust professional network she curated over the last ten years had other plans for her.
I didn’t anticipate [the sabbatical] would turn into self-employment…it didn’t have the most elegant start, but I’m grateful I’m here now.
PARTING ADVICE 💭 (29:19)
One of my favorite parts of this interview was when Alyssa went into detail about a conversation she had with her little brother after accepting a head of marketing position.
He told me he was really proud because he knew I wanted to be a leader, but not to forget the big dream, which is that I wanted to be an author first and foremost…[so] remember what your eight-year-old-self wanted for you.
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CURRENTLY READING 📚
Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky. A motivational self-help guide to putting your passions first, especially for women who balance paid work and parenthood.
CURRENTLY STREAMING ⏯
The Climb on HBO Max. Although the show doesn't have as much Jason Momoa as Alyssa would like, it's a fun competition that combines two of her favorite things: rock climbing and reality TV.
Claire Saffitz's Delicious Chocolate Coupes from her newest cookbook, What's For Dessert. Super easy to make, and a huge step up from boxed pudding!
To get the latest updates on Alyssa’s Silicon Valley-themed romance series you can:
Visit her website
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Follow her on Instagram
Hope you enjoyed hearing about Alyssa’s journey,
P.S. I’m still processing all that happened when I was away on a writing retreat last week, and can’t wait to share with you in the next issue. Meanwhile, drop me a comment below on who you’d like me to interview next!