Wednesday, June 04, 2014
A Writer's Working Vacation
Dang it, you’ve worked hard at your writing career, right? You’ve pushed through a 60,000 word manuscript, or sent out a ton of submissions—or both. You’ve blogged religiously and updated statuses and tweeted your fingers off. You’ve read till your eyes are crossed, and taken enough notes at conferences to fill four three-ring binders.
You deserve a break.
Except it’s not a good idea. You need to keep working.
And you need to put down that laptop you want to throw at me.
I promise you that I get it. I want a vacation, too. The thing is, I know how hard it is to get back to work when I take off, how much writing ground is lost when I get out of my writing routine. And so I take a working vacation (which sounds weird, even as I write it). But it works for me, and it can work for you. Here’s how:
1. If you’re working on a manuscript, it’s really important to keep at it. You can’t afford the time it takes to constantly reacquaint yourself with the story. So even if it’s just thirty minutes, work on your manuscript every day. Even if you’re on a cruise, you can find thirty minutes. (But don’t be surprised if, once you start working, you find another hour or two. Or that your manuscript is mysteriously margarita-stained and smells like sunscreen.)
2. If you’re in between projects, you might think you have a perfectly legitimate excuse for a break. But your creative juices will dry up if you don’t keep them flowing, so choose a couple of fun summertime projects and work on one every day. Contests, writing challenges, or opportune …er, opportunities pop up like summer showers. I plan to watch this free Scrivener webinar because I missed it the first time around. Now I can watch it whenever I want, but please note that it’s only available till this Friday, 11:59 PM EST. (I especially like to use travel time for creative thinking and plotting and such. The casual kiddie observer might accuse you of sleeping, but you will know that you are hard at work.)
3. It might be too late to sign up for a summer writer’s conference, but research now and you’ll be ready for next year. In the meantime, schedule a writer’s retreat with friends. Plan for a long weekend at the beach or mountains or a state park. The plus side of a retreat is how relaxing it can be while getting work accomplished. (And if that retreat involves a spa package and dinners out on the town, then you can pat yourself on the back and go guilt-free because you’ve put in your writing hours. Or at least your writing thirty minutes.)
4. Sometimes, you will find yourself without Internet access, stuck in the middle of, say, a family reunion. Preparedness is the key to getting your work done. Have plenty of paper and pencils on hand. Print out needed materials. Insist on a long time-out, perhaps at a coffee joint to use the wi-fi. (You might also find yourself labeled as that “rude writer in the family who always claims she's working.” But that, my friends, is the price you pay as a professional writer.)
A working vacation…sounds a little crazy, and even a little funny. But it’s June, you know, and it’s the best idea I’ve got.
~Cathy C. Hall