Last week I wrote about 7 ways to fit in writing a novel when you work more than full time. That article included tips that applied any time throughout the year.
There's another great way to enjoy getting a concentrated amount of writing done, and that's to take a writing vacation. It can be a day, a week, or more, and it doesn't need to cost a lot, or anything at all.
Why a writing “vacation”?
Thinking of the time away from your work as a vacation makes it easier to carve out the time because vacation is fun. How often have you thought to yourself, “I should make some time to write” and not done it? That's because put that way, it sounds like an item on your endless To Do list. When it's a vacation, it still takes effort to arrange, but it's designed to make you happy, not add work to your week or month.
Also, when you're working tons of hours at your “first” career or job, taking time away to write is relaxing and fun. I usually came back to my regular work refreshed and excited.
Finally, “vacation” implies to other people that you'll be away and should be contacted only in a true emergency. If you tell people you're taking a vacation day or week, most will at least try to respect your time. Tell them you're taking time to write and they'll contact you just as if you were at work.
How to plan a fun, productive writing vacation
At home or away, here are a few things that'll help you enjoy your writing time and use it well:
- Decide in advance which writing project to focus on
- Set a goal that fits the time you have. A 1-day vacation goal might be writing a few paragraphs about each of your characters, a first draft of a novel chapter, or a plot outline (check out my Super Simple Story Structure if you'd like a quick guide–it's 99 cents (or free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber), and it includes links to free worksheets). If you have a week and you already know what will happen over the next quarter of your book, you might set a goal of a 50 pages or more.
- Figure out before you go/stay home a place to write where you can turn off your Internet connection and your phone
- If you get a lot of email or calls, put an Out of Office message on both just as you would if you were on another type of vacation
- Don't tell anyone unless you absolutely must that you're taking the time to write
At home writing vacations
If you're planning your writing vacation at home, there are a few additional points.
If you have a live-in partner, spouse, and/or children, the at-home vacation only works if they will not be there during the day. It's next to impossible for people you live with to view you as “not there” and leave you alone, and it's on you, not them, to be sure your writing time is sacred. If your home is occupied during the day, find a separate space in advance. Some possibilities are coffee shops, libraries, office sharing spaces, or the home of a friend who lives alone and is away at work during the day.
Pets and Chores
If you have a pet, do whatever you normally would if you went on vacation or were away at work. Get (or keep) a dog walker, feed the cat first thing in the morning the same time you would if you were going to work.
Also, no squeezing in a few chores. (No, not a single one, not even laundry if you will have no socks tomorrow.) Deal with it all just as if you were truly away and there was no possibility of doing any of these things.
If you go away
Ideally, go away alone so you won't be tempted to skip writing and go sightseeing or sip cocktails and chat with your friend/spouse/significant other. But that's not always possible, and if your partner or another person in your life will be upset by you going away alone, that's important too.
One solution is to plan a trip where the other person can do something fun. If your spouse loves to do yoga, go to a yoga retreat with plenty of activities for him/her during the day while you write. Or go to one of those areas of the world that you have no interest in seeing but your friend has been dying to visit, so long as that person is okay sightseeing alone. Or suggest that's a great time for your spouse to visit that in-law you can't stand or that best friend she or he would rather hang out with alone while you stay home and write.
Whether alone or with someone else, check ahead of time so you're sure there will be a place you can write undisturbed. It's also helpful if you landlock yourself. Find somewhere with food options in walking distance, then take public transportation or a cab or airport shuttle there. Without a car you won't be as tempted to leave to do something other than write.
What else to do during your vacation
You won't be able to write 24 hours a day, and most people won't be able to write 12 hours a day for that matter. And if you do, you may find yourself feeling depressed and isolated.
So wherever you take your writing vacation, plan some other relaxing activities. Have a nice dinner somewhere with a view, take a walk on a beach, catch up with your friends and family after your writing day is finished. Bring books to read or line up shows to watch, especially if both are something you never get enough time for the rest of the year.
However you handle it, a writing vacation can be a wonderful way to make progress on your novel away from day-to-day stresses.
Have you taken a writing vacation? Please share your experiences in the comments.
L. M. Lilly
P.S. Remember to check out the Free 5-Point Story Structure Blueprint if you're in the planning stages of your novel or are just getting started and would like a guide to help figure out your storyline.