It doesn’t look dangerous…
When you see something about the dangers of holidays and vacations, the first thought is probably along the lines of safety when traveling and shopping fraud, not writing problems. You know me, though, I’m talking about the dangers to your writing habits, not your health or finances.
Holidays and Vacations: The Succubi of a Writer’s Schedule
If you’ve ever manage to get into a regular writing habit or even a semi-regular writing habit (not the easiest goal, I admit), then you might see where I’m going with this. It’s like any other habit – the only ones that are easy to restart are the bad ones (the ones you’re trying not to do).
Since writing is work, beware temptations to put it aside for a bit. It might get dusty before you get back to it.
Here are some common enticements to resist.
If you’re a bibliophile like me, books can be hard to resist. And the more I read, the harder it is to resist reading. Then, that time I set aside for writing? It’s spent reading instead.
I’m not saying to never read (A tragedy!), but it might be wise to keep whatever rules you usually have for reading. In other words, don’t let books take over your entire schedule. It’ll make coming back from a holiday harder, believe me.
2. Sleeping In
Oh, that sounds good. Are you as sleep deprived as I am? Does the idea of lazing in bed and sleeping hours into the day sound like the best present you could get right now?
Well, that sucks.
Honestly, that’s pretty bad, and if you can, you need to make some life changes to fix that (says the pot to the kettle [I’m working on it!]).
That said, resist the urge to sleep til noon on vacation days. It’ll just screw up your sleep schedule, and you’ll pay for that temporary pleasure with a real struggle when it’s time to get up for work again.
3. Distracted Writing
Although multitasking is handy at times, it’s not ideal for productive writing. Like loss of sleep, it makes the writing take longer, and the writing quality drops. Neither is helpful.
If you can, keep your dedicated writing time the same as usual. If you can’t, a shorter but still dedicated period for writing can be more productive than trying to combine your writing with other chores or projects.
4. Hectic Schedules
Those of us with large families may not get much of a choice on this one. That said, we still get to decide what we commit to. We can choose not to make our lives more complicated than they need to be.
A good example is what you cook for a family potluck. If you have a choice between a really fancy, work-intensive recipe and an easy one that’s just as popular, which is gonna give you more time to write and make your life less stressful?
There are tons of decisions we make about holidays and gatherings that can have the same effect. How many stops we make, what parties we go to, and what favors we agree to do for other people are the mere tip of the iceberg.
5. Residual Exhaustion
If you can resist scheduling yourself thin, this one will be easier; however, we’ve all had those holidays where we work so hard to make everything amazing that we need a vacation after the holidays are over. That’s when taking a total day or two off looks really, really appealing.
Apple to Eve kind of appealing.
In that situation, try to make yourself do a minimum amount of work. You can even decide ahead of time – this much time writing, this much exercising, this much cleaning up, etc.
If you can at least keep the general shape of your usual daily habits in place (still with plenty of resting!), then, going back to work will be much easier.
You see, getting out of the habit is the real problem. The more of these temptations you keep from taking over your vacation, the better chance you have of keeping your writing going once you get back in the swing of things. Otherwise, it’s horribly easy to get back to work and replace your writing habit with a reading/sleeping/tv-watching/etc. habit instead.
You’ve experienced this problem before, right? (It’s not just me?) What other tips do you have?