Finding Time To Write on Vacation

This man is writing traditional Chinese characters on the pavement using a water soaked brush. He encourages me to write even though I am traveling.

The first installment of my latest novel This Broken Earth is due out on August 1st, and I am feverishly working on it, but I also have vacation plans this summer…or rather my family does, and I’m going along.

I say this with tongue in cheek.  Of course I like to spend time with my family, but I also need to meet my own deadlines while “having a life”.  I would be perfectly happy typing away at my novel every day for 8 hours rather than go someplace for a week “for fun”.  Besides, isn’t vacation simply a time where we go to rest from our day job, but end up rushing-rushing-rushing around like squirrels on crack and in the end are completely exhausted…even more so than if we did not go on “vacation” at all?  But I digress.

I am going with my son to Boy Scout camp next week.  As a writer, I lucked out.  I was going to have to camp in a tent all week and be without technology or any way to write, but since my son suffers from severe asthma, and my uncle lives just down the road from the camp, we will be staying evenings with my uncle so that Conner can breathe easy.  My uncle doesn’t have internet, but he does have electricity, and I will be charging my laptop at his house and during down time I will be working on the novel.

This got me to thinking about ways that a writer could write on vacation if they really wanted to get some things accomplished.  I hate not writing for a week and then having to put myself back to work.  It is hard to pull yourself out of a world and then place yourself back there after such a long stretch of time.  Here are some ideas:

1.  No Tech Is No Excuse – For centuries, writers wrote on paper using a quill pen.  Before I found out that I would be staying at my uncle’s house, I decided to print out my outline and then work with a yellow legal pad under a tree in a lawn chair.  I would then transcribe the work that I did to my laptop when I returned.  Good writers re-write anyway, and writing things out by hand would simply be another step in that process.

2.  Use Your Surroundings – One of the settings in my novel is a tent community by a river.  I am excited to spend this week at Boy Scout camp because I will get a more realistic feel for what living in this kind of a situation will entail.  I have been on week long camping trips before, but this experience will cause all of the imagery to flood back on my mind.  I plan on taking many notes.  The question to all writers concerning this is what is it about your vacation that could be used in a novel?  Perhaps you are traveling to an exotic location or going on a hike through the mountains or going deep sea fishing.  Hemingway loved deep sea fishing so much that he wrote The Old Man and the Sea as a result, right on the beach in the Florida Keys.  Real writers experience their environments.  It is difficult to write about something you know nothing about or have not experienced yourself.

3.  Writing During Down Time – DO NOT plan writing while your family are planning to do an activity.  Go and enjoy the activity with them.  Write when everyone is asleep in the hotel or get up an hour early and go to the hotel lobby with your laptop or legal pad.  Make sure that your writing doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day of your family’s vacation.  I made this mistake once on a trip to Branson, Missouri and I missed out on so much fun with my family.

If you have any tips or things that you do when you go on family vacation to keep working on your book, post them below.  I’m sure many of us can benefit from these ideas.  After all, the only way your book will be written is if you apply the bum glue and make sure your fingers are moving.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

9 thoughts on “Finding Time To Write on Vacation

  1. Great post! I recently vacationed w/ my family at a lake and I agree that u should vacation first and only write on down time. By doing this, I got very little writing done but I had a blast! Despite being exhausted–what u say about that is right, too–when I came back I felt like my batteries were recharged and I was ready to dive back in!

  2. Routine is still important on vacation. Even though you won’t be able maintain your usual writing schedule, having set hours of some kind will pay off in proper mind set and fewer interruptions from your traveling companions.

  3. Roger,
    I love how feverish you are about writing. Makes me feel less alone in the world!

    Most people will find a way to simply relax during a vacation. Writers, however, find time between relaxing to write.

    Look forward to the release of your novel. Consider one copy pre-sold already.

  4. Really great advice, and for those who aren’t full time writers this is a good way of handling your writing, without it getting in the way of your family and great experiences (which could be useful for later writing 😉 )

  5. Nice tips. As much as I would like to be able to write in a notebook, I just prefer typing. I even like taking notes on my ipod touch rather than in a small pocket notebook.

    The biggest help I’ve found, maybe not in the actual writing while travelling, but catching up later on is to photograph everything. Go until the memory card is full or the battery dies and those visuals on your screen will bring back more than your own memory could hope to on its own.

  6. Family time is hard the brain doesn’t stop working just because you are supposed to be relaxing but i do try to have one day a week where other than posting my blog i minimise my time at the computer. Because of my health issues we tend to do weekends away rather than full holidays at the minute and although i don’t write as in work at my novel I do still scribble away in my notebook and take lots of pictures where ever we go both as a memorial of where we have been but also for inspiration at a later date.

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