Should You (and How to) Write on Vacation

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Travel gives writers fresh insights and plenty of adventure, drama, and passion for their stories. Is it a good time to sit down and write those stories, though? Vacation is a precious commodity these days, and a lot of writers wrestle with guilt when they consider how few words they plan to write during that time off. First of all, guilt has no place on vacation. Whether you write or not, drop that boggy mood out the airplane window (without a parachute). But how do you know if you should write on vacation, really? How do you manage if you choose to indulge? Here are some tips to guide your decision making process.

What Do You Want from Vacation?

Believe it or not, this is the most important question for your immediate writing plans. The quality of time away from work helps determine how must stress you bring back, how prepared you are for new challenges, and whether your mental health has time recuperate.

If you want time away to free you for activities you love, then it makes sense to take a few hours for writing. If you just want to rest, to escape, then bringing any kind of work – even fun work – may not be the best plan. It could hinder your recovery and leave a bad taste in your mouth whenever you think of sitting down to write.

Pick the Right Project

If you want to write on vacation, pick your project wisely. Remember that this is your play time, your time off, the days or weeks when you’re free to do whatever you want. Been putting off a “silly” project that just won’t leave your head? This may be a great opportunity for guilt-free speed writing.

Practically speaking, keep your goals low. Do not aspire to write a novel during a two-week vacation. It isn’t impossible, but only in the strictest sense, and you’ll do nothing else during your time away. Consider a short story, start a novella, or just add a few chapters to your novel. Remember, you don’t have to finish your project while you’re away. Writing itself should be the reward while you’re on vacation, and if it doesn’t feel like one, then you may need this time as a true break.

Communicate with Your Crew

Most of us go on vacation with friends or family. They probably have some expectations for the trip, and some of their plans likely involve you. Have a chat as you’re planning and let them know how excited you are to hang out with them and write. There may be days you’re out and about and unable to type. Then, on quiet days, when everyone else boils in the hot tub, you get a few hours alone with your ideas. Setting a few hours of the day aside for individual activities is always a good idea (your introvert friends will thank you). Maybe the quiet hours of a long morning or warm evening belong to your muse. Find a plan that works for your group so no one feels cheated time together.

Maybe, after all of this planning and discussion, you get to your resort, ship, or campsite and realize it isn’t a great time to write. No problem! Lean into the break and have fun. If you have new ideas, a few notes will keep them stable until you’re back at your desk. Enjoy the time away!

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