It’s that time of year again.
Come tomorrow, as the song goes, I’ll be leaving on a jet plane – travelling from sea unto sea to Nova Scotia for my annual Christmas sojourn home.
It’s not that I don’t want to go home or see my family. Rather, there’s just very little in this world I find more arduous than actually getting there.
I mean, to begin with: airline travel at Christmas. Airline travel is bad enough during any other time of year, fraught with such indignities as,
- Having to remove my belt (which, far from being just a fashion accessory, is actually necessary for keeping my pants up),
- Having my hair patted down for concealed weapons, and,
- The full-body “I-can-see-you-naked” X-ray scanner.
At Christmas, I get to enjoy all of the above and wait in a long-ass line for it at that, as if eagerly claiming a special prize.
So, my attempt to maintain my writing schedule while on vacation didn’t go so well.
This isn’t to say I did absolute NO writing. For I did; I wrote five times. In three weeks.
But two of those times were while on airplanes – that’s a huge step outside of my normal creative environment and my comfort zone. I even wrote a sex scene while on a plane. While sitting in the aisle seat no less. That’s got to count for something!
It’s not the end of the world that I barely wrote while away. It’s not like a wagered money on it or anything.
(Maybe I should have wagered money on it; maybe that would have been just the motivator I needed, for I despise spending money needlessly.)
I even learned a few useful tips to follow the next time I go away for an extended period of time.
And so, for those who were duped by my original Writing While On Vacation post, searching in vain for advice from someone who hadn’t a sweet clue how to do so herself, I now offer you the benefit of my newly-acquired wisdom:
Sun by Dawn Banning
We writers – when we discuss our work and our process at all – tend to restrict said discussion to other writers.
After all, who else could possibly understand our unique brand of crazy? How can anyone genuinely comprehend, for example, the compulsion to sit up in the dead of the night and scribble down a story idea unless s/he too has endured the utter frustration of greeting the morning with forgotten inspiration?
Artists of other disciplines (e.g. painters, musicians, actors, etc.), while themselves not fully cognizant of what it means to be a narrative writer, might come pretty darn close to understanding us.
Today marks my final full week of summer holiday.
Due to a combination of me hoarding my vacation days throughout the year, overtime rolled over from last year, and the fact that my vacation both began and will end with a long weekend, I’ve been able to take off most of the month of August.
I had good intentions to try to maintain my writing schedule over the course of my travels, but – well, we all know what they say about good intentions.
I’ll discuss what I was busy doing while I should have been writing in a future post. In the meantime, with eight days remaining until I return to work, I’m thinking ahead to three days from now – to the last five days of my vacation, when I leave Ontario and go back home to Vancouver.
Boldt Castle, Heart Island, as seen from aboard a 1000 Islands boat cruise, St. Lawrence River.
Number of days on vacation thus far: 10
Number of kilometers from home: 4523
Number of cities so far visited: 3 (of 5)
If you came here looking for advice on how to do as the title indicates, I’m sorry to disappoint.
I don’t know how to do it either.
Indeed, not once in at least the last three years I’ve been writing have I successfully maintained my writing schedule while on holiday.
In the beginning, my efforts used to be quite fervent. More recently, I’ve not even bothered to make the attempt, instead consciously choosing to take a short break from writing and resume my regular schedule upon returning home.
That won’t work this time.
Because I’m on holiday for the entire month of August.
It’s been a long year.
I don’t know about any of you, but my poor brain gets a lot of use over the course of a year. I’m always thinking about something. This past year, I expended much brain power on the following:
- Performing the seemingly endless progression of tasks at work (and not only on work time, I might add)
- Trying to anticipate what other tasks were on the horizon to adjust and accommodate my various schedules
- Devising more efficient ways to execute my tasks and maximize my time
- Remaining mindful of my physical surroundings and planning against potential dangers to my person (as any paranoid-type person would)
- Keeping track of people around me – where they are located in proximity to me so we don’t get in each others’ way – and also how my words and behaviours are affecting and being received by them to prevent my coming off like too much of a left-brained drone or introverted recluse
- Rehearsing in my mind almost everything I say before I say it in that same left-brained, introverted way of mine, constantly measuring my words and tone to give as little – or as much – offense as the situation calls for
- Paying attention to local and world events through various forms of media
Thinking about writing.
My brain is always in high gear, speeding from one thought to another, passing by past concerns, gaining ground on up and coming ones. That is hard enough.
I make a point of recording certain milestones while at work on my novel-in-progress.
I do so to track when I reach certain parts of the novel, both to measure the consistency of my output and for reminiscence. I also do it to encourage further progress and the achievement of additional milestones.
The specific milestones I’ve chosen to observe are as follows:
- Page 50 of the novel
- Page 100 of the novel
- Every page that is a multiple of 100
- The approximate midpoint of the novel
- The end of every chapter
Currently in my novel, I’m about five words away from rolling over onto page 100. I’m also about half a page away from the end of a chapter. One might suppose I’m feverishly working away on achieving two milestones within such a short space of each other.
But I’m not.
Instead, I’m rather preoccupied with another pursuit.
Once I finish with this one, I’ll gladly return to writing. In the meantime, though, I find myself on the edge of something else that’s wonderful.
Related post: No Better Place (for Writing)
Last week, I went away on a mini-vacation.