“Did you remember to bring your laptop?”
Those were the words I heard from my wife a few days ago when we were leaving for a quick extended weekend getaway from everything. I had already planned on doing so beforehand, but it was really sweet for her to have a thought for that even while her head was filled with issues regarding our plans and what we were going to do when we get there.
Laura does not, under any circumstances, has a passion for writing. She is a good writer for her profession (city management, in case you were wondering) when she needs to be, of course. But she is not someone who relaxes with trying to write a story or poetry, or try blogging. She has read some of my work before (especially this blog), but she has not made it a habit. Regardless of that, the question she asked me before I left was one more thing of many that let’s me know how much she realizes writing is important to me. And that really means the world to me.
All right, enough with the mushy lovey stuff, let’s talk about writing.
People who know me and some of the people who read this blog realize that I talk about Stephen King more than a little bit. In some of the past interviews of his that I have read, King talked about how much writing was a habit for him that the only times that he didn’t write was on Christmas Day and on his birthday. As I recall, he later admitted that was just a tall tale that he had spun for that reporter, and that he wrote on Christmas Day and his birthday as well.
I appreciate that dedication and productivity in a writer, a level of which I will likely never reach on a career basis. However, this whole process I have been attempting to commit to has been an effort to make me a better writer and get some King-like productive years out of me before everything is over. So, I have tried to emulate that with varying degrees of success.
Then there is writing when you are on vacation. That becomes a different situation altogether.
The first thing that gets complicated when writing on vacation are logistics, of course. You need something to write with, which can be pretty complicated if you’re not one of those Luddites who insist on writing everything with paper and pen or pencil, or the even bigger insanoes1 that insist on using typewriters. Usually, this means carting laptops (or desktops? No, more insano2 behavior) to wherever you are traveling to. If you are basing your vacation plans around a hotel, you’re in luck – most of those places if they are not in the Stone Ages will have at worst a coffee table and power outlets and at best a designated writing desk and USB ports nearby.
As for all of you whose vacations involve physical challenges like canoeing down the Mississippi River or hiking the Appalachian Trail… I guess you’re screwed3? My best possible advice might be to bring some lightweight writing equipment (Chromebook, iPad, something lightweight that isn’t a power-guzzler), some recharging ability, and some water-proof storage? I guess?
Enough of that. So, even if you are in a hotel, bed and breakfast, AirBnB, or whatever, it’s not exactly a straightforward process to just get writing. For example, what if the desk or writing surface you are using isn’t the same height that you are used to? That can get awkward, even to the point where your arms are cramping up by not being where they usually are.
For me, not having the right chair is one thing that can really throw me off. I honestly can’t concentrate on anything if I’m worrying about backaches or whatever. In the hotel room that I was in recently, I had to try out two different chairs before figuring out what works. If you are sitting somewhere for a while, you want to make sure that it is a sustainable writing position4.
Lighting is another thing. I typically want a place to be lit well enough so that I can see to grab, say, a pencil or notebook or something. However, I don’t want it to be so bright that I feel like I’m Spalding Grey5 sitting behind a desk on a stage with however many spotlights above or in front of me. You want it just right.
Of course, there are other items that come into play. When you are on vacation, especially with a significant other and/or kids, you are expected to do some activities. This might involve museums, art galleries, tourist attractions, kids’ parks, or various other entertainments. Obviously, this takes a bit of time away from when you can write. But then again, unless you are actually doing this for a full living, or retired, or living in a hovel alone, that’s going to be the same situation as it is at home. You just manage to carve out the time the best you can, whenever you can. Hopefully, you also have traveling companions that realize that even on vacation and even if you don’t spend a lot of time with each other back home, everyone does need some alone time.
The actual fact is, you’re likely not to get as much writing done on vacation even if you promise and dedicate yourself to that goal. There’s plenty to do, and you want to have at least a little bit of a mental vacation as well.
The point is, that is all right. You don’t have to be. Take it from someone who procrastinated for so long, you can forgive yourself if you are not quite as productive. Just get something done. It could be a five-line poem; it could be a 200-300 word section of your latest story; it could be you tour around some beautiful place and get inspired to do a new story or add something to an old one. Get done what you can get done and the rest will sort itself.
Take care, everyone, and you writers keep writing.
1. I just made that word up.
2. See #1.
3. For me walking around a city center is the height of physical exercise, so I wouldn’t know about hiking the Appalachian Trail or other such nonsense. To be fair I’ve been walking a bit more than I used to3a.
3a. Frankly I would be the one enjoying the night air when the comet or whatever it is comes by to wipe out Earth rather than scrambling to find an underground bunker. Although I was intrigued by The Last of Us when it was released a few years back, I in no way would do as well in that world as Joel and Ellie, for example. I know my limits.
4. I refuse to believe that standing desks are a thing, so don’t even bring that up to me in the comments. Writing and exercise are two totally different things.
5. Google it kids.
3 thoughts on “Writing When You Are Away From Home”