Taking A Vacation From Writing

I spent the weekend in Maine with some friends. The trip had been planned since February and I had been excited to go all along but as the weekend neared I began to grow panicky. Why you ask? Was I afraid of bad weather? Not getting along with my friends? Spending hours in a car with little to do to occupy myself?

No to all of those things. I was panicky because I knew I wasn’t going to bring my laptop. Since I decided I wanted to be a writer I have written every single day without fail. And now that I have deadlines looming and characters begging for their stories to be told I really feel the pull to get the words out of me. But I was going away and while I can have hours of fun writing I know that my friend and her sister wouldn’t get as big of a kick out of it as I would. I told myself I could write anytime. That writing would always be there for me. Time with my friends might be limited. So I left it home.

The world wasn’t going to end without it. And even though when I woke up early some mornings with my fingers itching to add to my WIP I was okay without it, because I ended up needing to take a step back. I always think of myself as a panster, but in reality I’m not. Before I start writing I know how every book I write is going to end, the major turning points and the black moment. And each day I sit down to write I always have a plan for what I going to put down on the page. But lately in a rush to get my word count up I was writing things that had no purpose, scenes that didn’t move the story forward. I’m not a girl who spends a lot of time editing after the book is done, so it’s important for me to get it right the first time. (I know some people say it’s okay for your first draft to suck and it is okay for some people, but I’m not that kind of writer and if you aren’t then that’s okay too.)

My favorite store in Kennebunkport.

It was good for me to take a step back because it allowed me to think of my book as a whole instead of just scenes slapped together. Instead of reaching for my laptop I lay in bed and thought about all the little things that make a book good. I want my book to be good. So I knew I had to dig deeper and find what it was missing.

On the second morning of the trip after a very fun day of shopping and a night of watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies my mind was clear enough to actually plot the second half of my book scene by scene.

I grabbed my phone and typed myself the world’s longest memo. I knew that I wasn’t going to add any new words to my WIP but I knew that when I did I wouldn’t have to rack my brain for words to put on the page. In the end even though I didn’t spend anytime actually writing I managed to get a lot of work done.

Now I’m back home enjoying my last free bit of weekend before I have to return to work. My trusty laptop is with me but I have decided that I’m not going to write a single word until tomorrow. My vacation from writing hasn’t ended yet.

So what about you? Do you ever allow yourself to take a step back? Are you really a panster? Like Maine? Ever see that giant liquor store on the highway in New Hampshire? Any and all comments are welcome.

Oh and I am heading back to Maine next week (a different part) with my family and I am lugging this bad boy with me. I missed it!

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8 thoughts on “Taking A Vacation From Writing”

  1. Beautiful photos Jamie! It’s okay to leave the laptop once and a while and just have fun. And yes, I take breaks all the time. I find that when I allow myself not to think about writing (especially if I’m in a plot snarl), the answer will sneak up on me – so I always have something handy to write on!

  2. Hi Jamie. Yes, I have seen that huge liquor store, yes I love Maine (had an uncle there we visited in summer all the time-he has passed away now), I’m a panster, and I allow myself to step back all the time. Like you, I know those points in my story, but I do not outline how I will get there. I find that when I step back it gives me a clear view of where I want my story line to go. Very helpful. It recharges your battery, so to speak … even a wood cutter has to stop and sharpen his ax every now and then. 🙂

  3. I understand your panicked feeling. I feel the same way most of the time. I think it’s the reason Gail Chianese believes I’m going to suffer a heartattack (she’s not kidding!) Kudos to you for taking a break. I hope to one way walk in your shoes.

  4. Great that you took some time away, Jamie. I love Maine! Looks like you had fun and I’m sure the break will do your writing good. I have a hard time leaving it behind these days. I’ve forced myself to take a few short breaks this summer, but this is a BUSY business. I pretty much feel like a slave to my computer these days. Deadlines, revisions, the next book, promo…holy smokes! It’s just crazy. It would probably do us all good to take a step back and breathe once in a while.

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