As I write this, I am riding in the back of a car on the way home from a week visiting family. Of course, families and vacations are (mostly) wonderful. But holy crap, do they ever get in the way of any kind of creative work. Not that I love them any less. Are you listening, family? I heart you!
OK, now that we’re done with all that, how the heck do you survive? I admit to being overambitious. I brought along my laptop, a printout of my completed novel, and all my revision notes. And how much time did I find to work over the course of the week? About an hour.
Now in my defense, let me say that I have done better in the past. A lot better. But on this trip, a combination of a jam-packed schedule and revision anxiety did me in.
So what did I learn from this experience?
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead of trying to read through an entire ms., just shoot for a few chapters. Instead of writing 500 words a day, just write 100.
- Fit the writing activity to the opportunity. Impossible to bring a laptop? Bring a notebook and write in longhand. Will you only have short windows of time? Just brainstorm scenes, or maybe a list of ideas for your next project.
- Go to bed early. You can either write before you go to sleep, or wake up early and do some work then.
- Ask for some time to write. This requires some assertiveness on your part, but try to get some help from a supportive co-vacationer. Maybe you can skip some together time — say, at lunch — to make some time to write.
Most importantly, though, don’t forget to actually enjoy your downtime. Things like relaxing, daydreaming, and enjoying new experiences will add fuel to your creative fire. Try putting your notebook (and your phone) away, and just, you know, be present. And don’t be surprised if some of those new sights and sounds make an appearance in your writing when you least expect it.