A couple of weeks ago, I went on a writing-free vacation. I am always chanting the importance of writing every day to my creative writing students and my clients, so a writing-free week really goes against my grain. For me, and probably for you, too, writing is as enjoyable as it is work. It’s hard to leave behind.
Yet, spending time with my family was more important.
Some vacations have a bit of downtime built in, where you could probably write and it wouldn’t interfere with the general plans. But, if you’re vacationing with family/friends, you want to make sure that you are present. Be there fully with them, genuinely.
Consider the stereotypical businessman with his cell phone on the beach. Spending too much time writing when you should be bonding with your traveling companions can be a big mistake.
Below are a few tips I learned over the years on how to manage the writing when you’re not writing.
Plan not to write. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually hard if you’re in the middle of a project you love. Tell yourself as often as you can that you won’t be working while away on vacation, but that you’ll be coming back, refreshed, with awesome ideas. This will help take the sting out of the temporary split.
Before you take off to that tropical resort, try to leave your WIP at a natural transitioning point. Between drafts is the best situation, if possible, because you really should leave your WIP alone for a few weeks after each draft you write anyway.
Read for enjoyment’s sake. Reading helps writers become better at their craft, so this is a nice way of working without working.
Read up on the industry. Writers always have lots of homework, which is hard to get in on top of life, writing, and social media. Take advantage of that 4-hour plane ride and bone up on the writing and publishing industry.
Work on your business plan, if you’re writing with the intent of publication.
The next two suggestions are for the writer who will suffer a small break in her sanity if she doesn’t write something at least once a day. Now, this goes against the “not writing while on vacation” gist of my post, but it needs to be acknowledged: Some writers are diehards, addicted to story, and if they aren’t writing on paper, they’re going to write in their heads anyway.
But, use these suggestions with caution, making sure you are still respecting the wishes and needs of your family/companion. Vacation is meant to give your mind, body, and spirit a chance to revitalize, which can only benefit your muse.
Bring a small notebook with you. Small enough to tuck into your back pocket, boot, or purse. Clip a small pen to the notebook. Only jot down ideas that randomly strike you.
Consider bringing a character with you instead of the whole story. Preferably a character you don’t know much about yet. Develop the character through character sketches, questionnaires, poems, scenes, dialogue, or backstory.
What about you? Do you write when you’re on vacation? What tricks have you learned?