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Writing On Vacation

writing on vacationFirst of all, should you be writing on vacation? I am curious to know what people think on the subject, so please leave some comments at the end. Now, since I have the microphone, let me give you my thoughts on this.

To Each His Own

I think there are two categories of people: those who write A LOT, and those who write LITTLE. Of course, both are highly subjective quantities, but you should be able to make your own estimation. In my view people who write very little are those who only write the bare minimum per day, which in my head is 1000 words. But more realistically I like to stretch this number to 2500. I know, I know, everyone is different, but these are my numbers. If I write 1000 words in a day, in my head I barely wrote. If I write 2500, I am happy, but not ecstatic. If I write more than 2500 words I feel like I wrote a LOT. That’s me. You are probably different, but you know your numbers.

Now, it’s not surprising that people who write little (by their own standards, let me reiterate that), are also people who have full-time jobs, not related to their writing. On the other hand, many people who write a lot are people who have more free time, generally speaking.

Write With Your Mind

So, for people who write a lot, a vacation might need to be a real vacation. A time when you close your mind, lay on the beach or where ever you like and let your brain relax. That could be right, but for this situation I would definitely suggest using the vacation to create ideas.

Remember, writing never stops. Just as a painter never stops imagining things to paint, a writer’s mind is always at work, even when the writer is asleep. So, with the excitement of vacation, there are lots of ways you can boost your imagination:

  • Look at the local people. Do you see characters?
  • Talk to others. Do you see story ideas? Do you see plots?
  • Peek at the local news or newspapers. Anything out of the ordinary?
  • Walk through local stores and shops. Do you see anything that you have never seen before?
  • Street names and people names. Any of them good enough to make it into your writing?
  • What about setting? Is there anything you see that would be a good backdrop for your story?

If you don’t want to bother with your laptop, if you made a vow not to look at it for 7 days, keep a small notebook in your pocket and a pen. When you see something, write something. Take notes of anything that is outside of your regular world and it might turn into a story later on.

Write With Your Fingers

Now, for people who write little, category that often includes yours truly, vacation is the perfect time to get some writing done. Here are a few ways to do that:

On the plane, train or car. I believe the plane is a perfect place to write. Turn off that darn TV, you’ve been watching it everyday, and turn on your laptop. On my last trip to Eastern Europe I had a total of 13 hours. The first leg was 8 hours. I got 3 short stories written. Why? Simple: no internet, no distractions. Just me and my laptop. When you are a passenger in a car, it might be more tricky, but you can still clock a few hours of writing, depending on the situation. For me, writing on the plane has been by far one of the most productive time when it came to my writing on vacation.

Mornings. The vacation morning is a wonderful time to get some writing done. It takes me maybe a day or so to get into vacation mode and when I do, even if I go to bed late, I still find myself energized in the morning and able to wake up before the others (even before my 2 year old!). So what I do, is use the time before everyone else wakes up to write. The ideas and thoughts I gathered during the previous day, nicely grouped in my head after a good night sleep, now just want to explode out on the paper. It’s a great feeling. If you have a nice balcony with a fresh breeze and view of the ocean, that makes it that much more appealing.

The rules above also apply to this category. Combining writing with gathering of ideas is a powerful combination. You will feel great when you return home an you have not only a lot of great ideas for plot, setting, and character, but also a lot of words already on the page, waiting to be edited.

Final Rules

A few rules for writing on vacation: don’t edit. Remember, you are now away from your safe zone. You are out of your ordinary life, and away from the ordinary things. Your imagination will get bombarded with new information, new feelings and emotions. Cherish them and foster them and let them seep into your fingers. Just let your writing flow on the page and forget about editing. You’ll do that once you are back home; while you are away simply write new stuff. You will thank yourself later.

One time, during a recent vacation I write about 15,000 words. It was a story I never thought of, something totally brand new. It later turned into a novel that is now part of a 4-novel series that is my work in progress. So, I’d say my vacation paid off really well.

So, what are your thoughts about this? What is your take on writing on vacation?

Best of luck,

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Iulian Ionescu