From Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way to Stephen King, author of On Writing and many a creepy tome, to Alan Watt, author of The 90-day Novel and founder of the L.A. Writers Lab, the general consensus of most writers seems to be “write everyday”. Being a brand new blogger working on two novels while job hunting I became a bit concerned about how this was going to work with being on vacation for about a week and a half. I didn’t want to lose momentum on my novels and I sure as heck didn’t want to disappoint the modest following I had worked hard to build on my barely-off-the-ground blog. In short, I don’t think that writers get, nor do they really want, vacations from writing. Eek! I just figured out something new about myself…I’m one of those writers! <Panic! Danger Will Robinson. Danger! Beep! Beep! Woop! Woop!> Wait.
This is where the Online Learning System (OLS) I chose for obtaining my college degree came in ever so handy. With the exception of a vacation in Mexico, I attended school on holidays, weekends, and while on vacation. It wasn’t that hard because my virtual classroom allowed me to attend school almost any time and anywhere I wanted to. Of course there are caveats, price being one, of course. However, successfully completing a degree program online also requires a tremendous amount of dedication and discipline. Coordinating far-flung teams of people to work on papers and projects through online chat threads was both quite challenging and quite rewarding (you try coordinating the completion of a 20 slide PowerPoint presentation in four days on the pros and cons of a free economy for a team consisting of people in three different U.S. time zones, a soldier on a ship in the gulf and someone who barely types in English in Dubai, whew!) . The pressure was constant with compressed courses lasting only five weeks and an individual assignment as well as a team assignment due every week. Papers averaged 1500 words and had to original and APA formatted, with proper references and citations. Who said all online schools are diploma mills???
As I thought about the similarities between OLS and writing in general I found the task of keeping up with my writing much less daunting. Hey, looky there, the $300,000 education is finally paying off (yes, that was sarcasm). True, there are certain environments that are more conducive to creativity, but the same can be said for studying. Where I’ve found I could concentrate on studying with grandkids, kids, dogs, cats, and barely controlled chaos going on, when writing I needed a lot more quite. Many of the tactics I used for school on the road I’ll be using for writing. I have some tools that will be helpful and there are others, such as an I-pad, with its 8hr battery life that I can only wish I had.
Our road trip begins in Colorado Springs heading to the Grand Canyon. The next leg of our journey takes us to Las Vegas, NV. A two-day side trip during our week in Vegas will take us to Los Angeles, CA. Then it’s back to Vegas for a couple of days before we drive home.
Here’s my plan:
I will use certain downtime to my advantage much like Brian Johnson’s mother told him to do in The Breakfast Club. Only when I’m relaxing by the pool or in the ocean or at the black jack table; that is just what I’m going to do. Relax. Hours of riding in the car and getting up a little early, and hanging out in restaurants will give me plenty of time to write on my laptop, in a notebook, or jot down flashes of inspiration in my mini notebook I keep in my bag.
I will not allow myself to stress about writing, word counts, or anything else of the sort and hence ruin my vacation.
I will allow my vacation to keep my creative fires kindled by enjoying all the things I will get to do and see, then writing about them.
Three simple rules, that’s it. I’m not looking for balance here. As Danielle Laporte, one kick-a$$, gorgeous, accomplished woman with her head screwed on straight, tons of charisma, and a fabulous spiritual philosopher says, Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself. I almost got caught up in the life balance trap planning for this vacation and my writing. Instead I’ve chosen to go with the flow, write when I can (because I love it and…well…it’s fun!), and have as much other fun as I possibly can (because…well…it’s fun!). I am a reserved person most of the time which is often mistaken as disinterest by the people around me, but inside my head is a myriad of thoughts and feelings spinning all manner of stories from what’s going on around me. To me, this is great fun, whether I’m in a casino, on the road, in an airport, on a plane, at home, by the pool, working, etc. the stage in my head is always active.
I’m looking forward to vacation and sharing some of what I see, think, and eat along the way. I’m also looking forward to writing about it.
How do you stay on track with writing while away from home? Is it hard or easy to stay focused? Do you tend to procrastinate? Suggestions welcome!
What’s your favorite place to eat in L.A.? In Vegas? I’d love to hear from you!