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Feb 25

Susan Shiney

5 Tips for Writing while on Vacation

1. Schedule imaginative alone time.

I set up a routine and space for imagination time and I guard it. I tell my loved ones that I will be taking time for myself and don't offer what that space entails because funny enough not everyone will want to respect my imagination time needs. I do find it easier to set up the expectation well in advance. Or I might go on vacation alone and still need to schedule it with myself because days fill up so quickly or disappear so easily on the couch.

My morning time is very important and I love to cultivate and enforce my morning routines while on vacation. In fact, I would say it is one of my top priorities. Vacations are for relaxing, visiting people and places, and for being inspired. Sometimes I work myself so hard that I silence my muse and I need to nurture her back to health. She likes the mornings for that, and makes me grumpy for hours so people don't want to be around me anyway.

I like walking, journaling, meditating, and quieting the inner noises that burrow inside. When I find that silence the ideas come. I need three hours, but everyone has different life configurations. Figure out how much time you need and with all kinds of peace and love, take it.

2. Be looser with the term writing and what it means.

Focusing on word count or editing doesn't work for me while on vacation. Setting up an expectation for that kind of writing is doomed for failure and then my vacation starts to feel like a place of work and I feel guilty for not keeping up with something hanging over my head all of the time. If I change my perspective to aim for quiet moments of inspiration and reflecting on my process being out of my typical working space, then I feel successful and eager to get back home and do the "writing". Read on for the vacation type of writing I am thinking of...

3. Carry a notebook at all times to capture inspiration, set alarms throughout the day to jot down notes for possible future stories or do it at each meal.

Yes, you can write notes on your phone but it is not the same. I like having a little special notebook for that specific vacation. I put a bullet journal at the front to keep my routine checklist, my daily journaling after that, and at the back goal lists, and notes of inspiration and sketches. I mention setting alarms or doing it at each meal as a way of keeping you accountable, especially if you are in a place totally different from where you are from. I do use my phone to cheat and take photographs of inspiring things and I write about them during my morning imagination session. On this note I wrote an article about the benefits of chronicling inspiration here:

During breakfast on my most recent trip to California, I saw the hotel manager put out some danishes and then head back to her room which had an ocean view. I dreamed about that job for myself and then thought about having a character in a story with that profession. Would the annoying clients staying in the hotel ruin the beach front gig?

While eating I tend to be more reflective and looking around and taking in my surroundings more, a great time to add to my writer vacation notebook.

Bonus points if you carry some washi tape and add receipts and random scrap booky things that you know you will never take the time to actually scrapbook, but add it to your writer vacation notebook and write some notes around your artifact and why you kept it.

4. Journal your days with scenes to really remember the details.

This is an excellent practice anyway, I wish I could go back in time and do this more on the traveling I have done in the past. How is this different than regular journaling? It gets you out of the emotional vomit fest and has you pay attention to the smells, the sounds, the sights, the tastes, and the physical textures of your new environment. You are processing your trip and who knows maybe you could take a scene you painted and put it directly into another piece at a later time, no pressure of course.

5. Research. Take in the local history and culture. Talk to people and try to hide the fact that you are interviewing them for a future piece of literature. Or not?

For interviewing you could add this as dialogue to your journal scenes, jot down a few notes, or if they are super cool you could record the conversation with their permission to dictate from later. Take notes as you go to museums or take a tour. Research by exploration is the best, I like walking because the more I walk around a new location the more I feel like I have a piece of it forever with me. Reading deeply about a place you are visiting also makes the traveling more vivid and can lead to more moments of inspiration as you wander and connect the dots of what you have learned.

How do you approach writing while on vacation? Please leave a comment below.

How do you approach writing while on vacation?

Please leave a comment below.

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