3 Reasons You Should Take a Writing Vacation

On September 7, 2014, I launched this blog and declared myself a writer. I made a vow to write at least 500 words every day, a commitment I kept until last week (with the exception of this one day last January).

A week ago, I decided it was time to take a break. I was on vacation, relaxing at my sister’s house, and for the first time in over a year writing felt like a chore. I had ideas in my head, but lacked the discipline and desire to sit at the keyboard and give them life.

So, I gave myself permission to take a break. For the next seven days I did not stick to my daily writing schedule. I watched movies. I crocheted. I sat in front of my sister’s fireplace and played with her dogs. I ate junk food. I sang showtunes while working on a jigsaw puzzle. I visited with family and friends.

I wrote a grand total of 783 words in seven days. And I don’t feel guilty for not writing more. Along the way, I remembered why I loved writing, and recommitted to my daily discipline.

There are good reasons to maintain daily habits, but a hiatus now and then can also be beneficial. Here are the three lessons I learned by taking a writing vacation.

1. People are more important than writing.

I already knew this from my 2015 adventure to Australia, but this week was a good reminder.  During my vacation I visited with family and friends, laughing and reminiscing. We shared stories and jokes, making new memories as we remembered past holidays. It was exactly what I needed, and I am especially grateful to my sister Caroline for letting me use her house as home base this week.

2. Exploring other creative outlets is fun and inspiring.

Writing helps me process life and my emotional reactions to daily events. But it is not the only activity I enjoy. I love to crochet. Having time this week to sit with yarn on my lap, a new project on my hook, allowed me to express a different part of my creativity. I had fun exploring color combinations and pattern designs. Working on a project in silence allowed my mind to wander. I thought of potential new blog posts, new writing opportunities and projects I hope to accomplish in 2016. Even though I wasn’t writing, I was still engaged in mental processes which will help my writing. And because I gave myself a break from writing, I did all of this without feeling guilty for pursuing one activity while ignoring another.

3. Taking a break refocuses your energy.

Sure, a daily habit is important if we want to accomplish a goal such as writing a book, composing a symphony or completing artistic work. Meeting deadlines and maintaining a routine, self-imposed or created by others, requires discipline and determination. But my stamina for this discipline was waning. Writing was becoming work, an obligation instead of a release.

When I gave myself permission to take a writing vacation, I found myself eager to write again. Writing was not a “must do” but a “want to do” activity. Rather than being a chore, writing was a creative outlet once more.

Now it is time for me to go back home, resume my daily routines, and enter the real world. I am excited to write each day, eager to work on the projects I have outlined. My writing vacation was just what I needed to be ready to write again.

Photo of an empty wheelchair parked on the bank of a river with a dingy hitch attached to the back of the chair.
Vacation was fun but now it’s time to get back to work.

If you are contemplating a daily writing routine, but need some encouragement, you might want to visit My 500 Words. This online writing community, started by Jeff Goins, is one of the reasons I have been able to maintain my habit. The members are generous, supportive and sincere. They will welcome you with open arms. 

 

Samantha Turns 1!

I am on vacation this week, spending time at my sister Caroline’s house – or “the inn on the hill” as we call it. I spent Christmas week at her house last year too. The break from my normal routine allows me to relax and reconnect with friends and family. It also serves to remind me that I am not a dog person.

I know, many of you ARE dog people. That is your preference, and I respect it.

You probably like having dogs lick your face at 5:30 AM, telling you they need to go outside. You probaby enjoy when your dog rubs up against your dress black pants and leaves slobber marks down your leg for all to see. You may even enjoy having toys covered in dog drool dropped in your lap while you are trying to read or write.

I do not. I like visiting people who have dogs. Then I like going home where I don’t have the responsibility of a pet.

Caroline has three dogs – Molly, Walter and Samantha. Molly and Walter are large German Shepherds. They are smart, intuitive, and loyal. Samantha is, well, she is Samantha.Photo of a brindle old English bulldog laying with a tennis ball between her front paws.

Last year at Christmas, Samantha, an old English bulldog, was just an eight weeks old puppy- tiny, soft and able to fit on my lap in a cute bundle. Watching her play with the older and bigger dogs provided hours of entertainment. She inspired one of my most popular posts where I shared how to live like a puppy.

Now Samantha is one year old and no longer fits in my lap. She still plays with Molly, but it is fairly evident Walter thinks he is above such nonsense. One of her favorite games is to hook her toy on my wheelchair and try to tug it. It is pretty fun to watch her attempt to drag my 250 pound chair across the floor. It’s more fun to watch her go sliding across the floor when the toy unexpectedly comes loose.

So, this week I will play with an energentic one year old Samantha in between reading, writing, crocheting and visiting friends. She still lives like a puppy and I will do my best to follow her lead.Photo of Samantha, a 1 year old brindle old English bulldog, laying on top of Molly, a 3 year old German Shepherd.

Until it’s nap time.  Then I’ll see if Molly will let me use her for a pillow like Samantha does.