So I just got back from a fabulous 6-day vacation to beautiful Toronto! I went up for a “tour” with the cricket team that I score for. They’re an awesome bunch of guys, truly and deeply close to my heart, and we all had a lot of fun together. Way too much fun on Friday night, if you ask me! I spent most of Saturday looking for whoever hit me in the back of the head with a 2×4. And yes, I got a little bit of work done on my latest book, a novella in the Montana Romance series called Sarah Sunshine.
I also got bumped, HARD, out of my writing groove.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this feeling, but when you go away for a vacation, the world seems to stop. You take a step out of time and space and reality and do something that runs against the grain of your everyday life. And don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing! It’s fun and relaxing, at least if you’re doing it right. But the place that you go to in your head when all of the rest of you is away from normal life—at least for me—is not the place where I write.
So yep, I had a huge amount of fun, I spent some quality time with a bunch of guys that I love, and I derailed my writing train of thought like a vinyl record screeching to a halt in the middle of a song.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Of course, the super huge advantage to taking vacations is that you refresh yourself. Sometimes when you aren’t able to write for a few days the muse starts champing at the bit. When you do get home and settle back into everyday life you hit the ground running. All sorts of inspirations that you wouldn’t have had before zip to the surface. Vacations are fantastic for writers in that way.
On the other hand, sometimes you’re right in the middle of something, inspiration is already hitting, and going on vacation causes you to lose the thread of what you were doing entirely. That’s what you have to watch out for. Because let’s be honest, you have to go on vacation sometime. Even if it’s as hard for you to stop writing as it is for some people to make themselves write.
Okay, so what’s the best strategy for getting back on the horse after you’ve taken some time off?
To me, the most important technique for getting started with writing again after a hiatus is falling back on habit. This means you have to have a firm writing habit or pattern or discipline to begin with. I write every morning when I get up and every evening on weekdays when I come home from work. Was it hard to make myself write the afternoon that I got home from this vacation? Absolutely. Was it hard to write at my regularly scheduled time the next day? Nope! Not at all. I already had the habit of writing in the mornings before vacation, so sliding back into routine was a piece of cake.
Another technique I discovered for getting back into writing after vacation was to do at least some writing every day of vacation. Earlier on, before the alcohol started flowing and schedules got confused and everyone came down with a bad case of “tour brain”, that meant working as usual for an hour or so in the morning. But after a day or so, that turned into jotting down notes on hotel sticky notes. By the end of vacation that meant taking ten minutes while driving to think consciously about what I’m writing and where the story needs to go.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that thinking about what you’re writing or going to write counts as writing work. Sometimes that’s all you’re going to be able to do. That’s okay. Well, it’s okay for vacations, at least. For me, at least, writing down the ideas I’ve had while letting my stories occupy the center of my brain is key to calling it work. At some point fingers need to hit keys again.
So what are your tricks or techniques for getting yourself going again after taking time off? Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or an accountant, what do you do to get the wheels spinning again after a vacation?