To Write or Not to Write?: My Thoughts About Vacations

I love the quote from Anne Lamott which says “anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”

A few months ago I blogged about the question of whether writers should take days off. Long story/blog post short, I am of the opinion that indeed, writers are wise to give themselves time away from their laptops every now and then to fully recharge their creative batteries.

I’ve personally had to overcome my concern that taking writing breaks ticks off my muse and temporarily robs me of both talent and inspiration. In the past, I’ve made an idol of writing, sacrificing time to it every day of the year – no excuses. Obviously, this is not a healthy perspective to have regarding any area of life, least of all one’s passion. We need to seek balance in every aspect of our lives, or we risk burning out, breaking down, and blowing up at those we love.

This fear reared its obnoxious little head again last week when I was packing for our one-week vacation to Saint Maarten, my husband’s and my first trip together, just the two of us, in nearly five years. It would be seven whole days and nights in the Caribbean, soaking up the sun, eating delicious food, exploring nature and another culture, and, in my mind, neglecting my nearly completed manuscript (the poor baby, right!?).

“Should I pack my laptop?” I asked aloud to my husband Ben as I stuffed my phone charger into my purse. I don’t know why I asked it – of course I shouldn’t pack it. Packing it would mean I would inevitably turn it on and start writing, which, in the reasonable opinion of spouses and others close to us, is synonymous with working. And there’s no working at the beach!

I didn’t pack my laptop (it’s too heavy to lug around airports, anyway), but I did pack my DC Comics notebook for when inspiration struck (naturally) and I would need somewhere to jot down my ideas…and maaayyybe a paragraph or two for my manuscript…

As you can see, I’m not exactly the best at “letting loose.” I reason that I love what I do and therefore don’t want to go a day without doing it. While that may be true, it’s equally true that being passionate about writing doesn’t give me a pass to be obsessive about it. It doesn’t excuse me from enjoying a long overdue, distraction-free vacation with my husband. It doesn’t mean I should beat myself up if I choose the salty sea breeze over a few pages of prose.

A photo my husband took on our last night in Saint Maarten!
A photo my husband took on our last night in Saint Maarten!

 

We leave the worries and the world behind and immerse ourselves in an ephemeral escape from the everyday.

We sleep later, breathe deeper, think clearer.

We better appreciate the beauty and wonders of creation.

We listen more closely to those we’re with and have more meaningful conversations.

Everything seems brighter, slower, more surreal and vibrant.

This is nectar for our spirits. It nourishes us, no matter what our vocations are, and revitalizes the parts of ourselves that are ailing, whether we’re aware of them or not.

I admit that the first day in Saint Maarten was a wee bit difficult for me. After all, I only had one more chapter to go on my manuscript back home. I felt guilty for reading another’s novel instead of working on my own. But I trusted the process, the process of relaxing and settling into a new rhythm. And before I knew it, I was restful, basking like a literate lizard in the Caribbean sun.

Ben and I got back late Monday night, and guess what. My Tuesday morning date with my manuscript wasn’t a disaster. My muse hadn’t left me a breakup note on my laptop. Inspiration still flowed and the first draft was finished.

I honestly feel like I’ve fallen more in love with this crazy craft and know I have Saint Maarten to thank –   its people, its waves, its sunsets and charm, and the amazing man I shared it all with.

My husband Ben and I doing pull-ups on a limb at Loterie Farm!
My husband Ben and I doing pull-ups on a limb at Loterie Farm!

 

What are your thoughts on whether to write while on vacation? And are you planning any vacations soon? Let me know on Twitter at @dandersontyler or on Instagram at authordianatyler. I would love to hear from you!

FUN FACT: “Water calms us, connects us to the world, and gives us clarity. So keep that clear blue water in mind when making your travel plans.”[1]

 

Keep Shining, (1)

[1] http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Why-Vacations-Important-39035755 (accessed November 2, 2016)

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