Holidays, Schmolidays!

A busman’s holiday — doing on vacation the same type of activity as one would do on a regular work day — is considered to be no holiday at all. You know what I mean. A construction worker spends his annual holiday time building an addition to his garage, or the swim class instructor takes an island scuba holiday. But what about part-time or full-time writers?

Even when I’m away I tend to write something every day. It may be only a journal entry, or a few ideas in my notebook but writing is so ingrained that I can’t imagine leaving my characters behind, dismissing a promising bit of dialogue or the perfect description of an eccentric life guard just because I’m sitting on a beach and not in front of my computer.

But in a post earlier this week WordServe agent Rachelle Gardner talked about taking a two week vacation and choosing not to document it — deliberately not Tweeting about it, not taking photographs, reading blogs on her Blackberry but not joining in the conversations. She said, “I wanted to be in the moment, not talking about the moment, not observing the moment, not making notes or taking photos of it. I just wanted to inhabit this precious time with my family….It felt liberating and scary all at the same time. But in the end, it seemed like I’d had a deeper experience somehow. I interacted on a deeper level with my family because I was never stopping to capture something in words. I stayed continuously embedded in the here and now and consequently, I think I enjoyed it more.”

There are times when distancing ourselves from a story can be beneficial — when we need a break during difficult revisions or to put one story on hold because thoughts of another are pinging around in our heads like steel marbles in a pinball game — but how do you feel about totally disengaging from your writing because of a vacation or extended family visit?

When you leave home on vacation, do you take your writing with you or leave it behind? What are the benefits or disadvantages?

8 thoughts on “Holidays, Schmolidays!

  1. Laura Best says:

    Vacation, what’s that?

    I’ve never gone away on a vacation. (Told you I had a boring life!) The closest I got was the week I spent with my daughter after my granddaughter was born, and of course I wrote some.

  2. Patti says:

    I usually leave my writing behind but carry a satchel of books. And find time to devour them.


  3. catwoods says:

    She hit the nail on the head with her comments. When travelling the world (or visiting rellies or the zoo or the park with my fam) I do not bring my writer’s brain. It’s true that great moments and inspiration may slip by if I don’t document them. At first this realization is scary, but after a bit of practice, it is liberating and I’m a better parent, wife, sister, etc because of it.

    And in the end, I have way more ideas than my brain can hold. I lose them as often as a blonde loses her car in the parking lot (yes, I’m blonde). Yet I never have a shortage of ideas when it comes time to write.

    Thanks for posting this permission to actually go on vacation!

  4. christicorbett says:


    Best. Cartoon. Ever.

    I couldn’t imagine leaving the house for a simple trip to the store, much less on an extended vacation, without an unlined notebook (can’t be boxed in when the ideas start to flow. Lines just get in my way) and a vast array of pens varying in both color and style (what pen I choose depends on my mood–yep, I’m a freak).

    I’ve found that if I get an idea and I don’t write it down my brain picks at it until it festers, eventually taking up my every moment and allowing no time to enjoy my vacation. On the other hand, if I get an idea and write it down in above notebook with the above pen my mind is free to get back to relaxing.

    Great post!

    Christi Corbett

  5. Erica Vetsch says:

    Great cartoon!

    I don’t write on my WIP while on vacation, but the story is always with me. And it seems, no matter where I am, that new storie ideas always pop into my head, but especially on vacation as we tend to go to a lot of museums.

  6. Katt says:

    Until we went to South Carolina a few weeks ago, I always take my lap top. You never know when you’ll get an idea about your latest wip. And I answer email on my cell phone, read blogs, etc. It finally occurred to my why I’m so tired all the time. You are exactly on the money. We (writers) go on vacation to get away from writing every day. How can that happen if you take a portable office with you?
    This is a great post! And a great reminder that we all need to take a break from time to time!

  7. joylene says:

    I take my journal and write in it at night before retiring. I have to or else months later, I can’t remember details. I’ve kept a journal my entire life and now can’t imagine not writing in it. Maybe I should try.

    Great post, Carol.

  8. I’m just back from a holiday — visiting and camping with some of our family — and I have to admit that in addition to my journal my laptop came along. It was sort of like my purse… just there, holding my necessities in case I needed to access them. 🙂

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