The truth is writers rarely take a vacation. That is, a vacation from their writing. Why? Simple. Our mind won’t let us. Sure, we can take time off and escape our 9-to-5 life. We can travel to some exotic location. But, we can’t take time off from writing—or thinking about writing.
We never know when a new idea will strike, the perfect opening line of our article will emerge, or a captivating ending to our book will crystallize and tap us on the shoulder and say, “Hey, write this down.” Our muse is a strange thing. It arrives unannounced. Thus, it never lets us take our vacation alone. It must come along for the ride. My wife has gotten used to this phenomenon. She graciously allows my writing to stowaway with us on most vacations.
“But my vacation is for relaxation, not writing,” you say. “I can’t possibly write productively on my vacation. Besides, writing during my vacation will not be good for me or my writing,” you insist. I beg to differ. With the proper balance of rest and writing, both you and your writing can benefit.
Here are three ways a vacation can improve your writing:
- Vacations allow you to unplug your 9-to-5 life and set your mind free. Think of your vacation as a brief sabbatical. It’s a time to rest, relax and yes, write. But in that order. When you relax you not only set your mind free to think clearly, you allow it to think differently—to explore different story angles and points of view. And a vacation refreshes your thinking because you are free from the deadlines that typically constrain you. Most importantly, on vacation, you can write at the time of day when you have the most energy, creativity and inspiration.
- Vacations allow you to change environments to invigorate your writing. There is nothing like a new environment to fuel your creativity. I’m writing this blog outside on my patio overlooking a striking tree-line, wetlands and a pond. (Sure beats an office.) I once vacationed in Monterey, California, near Cannery Row, the setting for the 1945 novel of the same name by author, John Steinbeck. Talk about getting in the mood to write. Vacations allow you to change locations, climates, venues, and scenery which elevate your mood, energy and your writing.
- Vacations (especially staycations) boost productivity by naturally putting you in a “start & finish” mode. This week on my staycation, I will be starting and finishing several tasks: cut the lawn, change the oil in the car, clean the garage, repair a bike tire, etc. How does my writing benefit? These small tasks thrust me in a mode (and mood) to start and finish projects. I will exploit this momentum to get some writing projects started and finished during my vacation.
So, I guess it’s true. Writers never really take a vacation because even if they’re not writing—they’re thinking about writing.