Writing Update: Make the Most of Your Vacation

Four months have passed since my last writing update, so I wanted to post a quick one now that summer was winding down. To those of you who were paying attention, you might have noticed that there was a lapse in my blog posting last week – and that’s because I was on vacation. I purposefully avoided the internet, so therefore: no blog post.

I not only encourage you to take a vacation if you haven’t in awhile, but I also encourage writers to write while on vacation. I find that removing yourself from comfortable surroundings can inspire you to overcome writer’s road blocks, and vacations are wonderful opportunities to overhear great lines and accents. Even if it’s just jotting ideas down on napkins or in a journal, TBTL (To Be Transcribed Later), it’s worth it.

Here are a few tips for writers on how to make the most of your vacation.

RELAX

This might seem obvious, but sometimes for writers, it’s hard to have true “down time” because whenever you’re not doing something, you think, “Well, I could be writing…” But relaxing and spending time with your friends, family, or doing something you love (other than writing) can also help you work through those tough spots that you might be having in your writing. Everyone deserves a little break, so remember to relax when you’re on vacation. It’ll help invigorate you when you get back.

GO OLD SCHOOL

In the age of iPads, tablets, Google Glass, and e-readers, if you can – I recommend going “old school” on vacation. Bring a reader if you must, but choose a legal pad or journal over your laptop. Reconnect with handwriting and give your eyes a rest from the computer screen as well. If you bring your computer, you might be more tempted to do work. You can still write on paper, in a notepad, or on a device like a NEO (if you really want that keyboard typing speed). A journal keeps you more mobile, and you don’t have to worry about recharging it or breaking its screen. Added plus: paper doesn’t produce glare in the sunlight.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND (AND OPEN EARS)

You’re on vacation, so take yourself out of your comfort zone. Say “yes” to activities even if you might feel a bit hesitant of them. Sample new foods and allow yourself to be open to new experiences. These can often lead to new ideas for scenes, conversation, and stories you can write later. On my recent vacation, I was reminded of things (e.g., putt-putt, tie dye, sneaking candy into laser light shows) that I hadn’t thought about in years… and I generated a couple ideas from them.

PAY ATTENTION TO DIALOGUE

I love listening to conversations and hearing accents and idioms in different places. I was vacationing down on the Jersey shore, and heard people who spoke with a different cadence, different emphasis, and different idioms – and trust me, I was writing them down. Pay attention to the small things – like how people answer questions, or what words they use for certain items. Syntax and word choice can convey so much in a character. Also, something that has always been helpful for me – I get to hang around nephews and nieces and hear how they speak. Because if you have a character who is 4.5, or 6, or 8, you don’t want them all sounding the same. If you’re not a parent, ask your friends or relatives for some funny “kid stories” – everyone has them, and some of them can be great tidbits to add to your characters or into your stories. Kids can create unique metaphors, and have an amazing view of the world – especially if they are trying to understand or describe something they’ve never seen or experienced before. So pay attention!

WRITE IT DOWN

As important to paying attention is writing it down. You might think that you’ll never forget what you just heard, or that you’ll write it down later when you have a bit more time… but trust me, the brain can only hold so much and if you’re anything like me – you’ll get back to your room and think, “Wait, I remember that I heard this great thing I wanted to use in my novel… what was it?” It only takes a moment, especially if you have a small notepad or journal, to write down what you’ve just heard. Napkins or scraps of paper can work as temporary in-betweens as well. You can even open up your phone and add the tidbit into Notepad (text-to-speech is so helpful), but again – I think it’s quicker to just go back to the basics and write it down. You can compile all your napkin scraps and notes later into one more organized collection of thoughts, story ideas, and dialogue once you’re back at your computer or even on the plane ride / car ride home.

As a writer, do you have any other ways to make the most of your vacation? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Posted on: August 26, 2014, by : adoylewriter

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