Earlier this week over on my tumblr, a wonderful Anon asked this question:
"Hi Jenn! I'm going on vacation for two weeks today and I have a (personal) deadline for one of my chapters. I know I'm on vacation to relax, but is there any way you think I could get some writing done? -K.M"
I responded to K.M. here, but I wanted to take this weekly writing tips time to expand on that answer in three parts:
1. Ask yourself what vacation means to you.
I'm a bit of a strangeling, I think: I don't exactly like vacations. I never quite get what others seem to think of as the "point." I'm not very good at relaxing: or at least, I'm not good at relaxing in the way many seem to think of it.
But working out? Writing? Meeting my writing goals? Those things are relaxing to me! So to me? Vacation is about making sure I do those things. Making sure I have plenty of reading material for trains and buses; making sure I have my workout gear; making sure I have my writing gear.
Those are my vacation goals; do what I need to do to relax, and then spend the rest of the time driving around aimlessly, going on long drives with my soon-to-be in-laws, exploring independent bookstores and museums because -- guess what? -- my own personal goals, my own personal relaxation, is done! So I can truly commit to that car ride, to that brunch, to that stroll along Venice Beach.
Because I want to fully commit. I want to watch movies late into the night and watch more Project Runway than I care to admit. But, before I do those things, I also feel where you're coming from, K.M. -- I want to do my own stuff. That's a vacation to me. That's relaxing. If that's the same for you, the next question is... how?
2. Set goals and boundaries with both yourself and with the people around you.
When I'm with people on vacation -- visiting my fiancee's family, usually -- they know what I'm going to do. They know I'm going to get up early and write, and they know I'm going to work out. They know because I explain to them my needs and goals beforehand -- this can get scary, but I've also found that it can be tremendously appreciated by others. Because most of us need alone time; most of us need something specific, something routine, even when we're on vacation.
For you and me, that may be our writing. For others, it may be sleeping in or going on a morning run or spending some time ignoring everyone to scroll Instagram before coffee. You might find that your own boundaries will help others keep theirs, too, which in my experience can make for a much less grumpy group experience!
3. Respect your body's day-to-day needs.
Does your family or your chosen family or your friends or whomever you're with want to get up super early to catch sunrise waves at the beach? And you just know you can't write before that, and you'll be too wiped out (no pun intended) afterwards to write? Are you super looking forward to going with them?
When writing on vacation helps you feel centered, set your boundaries and go for it!
But in those moments when you just want to take off away from it, away from your notebook or laptop or phone screen and just be? That's more than alright, too!!! You need that recharge time (I talk about recharge time more here). It helps you as a human, and it helps you as a writer.
We only write better when we let ourselves live our lives. Be gentle with yourself and be open to letting the vacation thing... happen! It is okay if your vacation is a vacation from writing. You are entitled to not write on your vacation: it doesn't make you less committed, it just makes you in need of a recharge!!
You got this!
What are your vacation writing (or not writing) tips? Share them here!