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A Writer's Working Vacation

Angie here:
I'd love to say I took a vacation when we spent a week in July on the Washington/Oregon coast in our husband did... while I had more of a writer's working vacation. I had deadlines, but took a few breaks now and then from work to do an activity. Kind of how the last few years have gone...a day here or there, a holiday weekend but taking work...

What stopped me from an all-out vacation? Contracts, wedding planning, duties that couldn't wait for two non-profits, and a couple of proposals editors were waiting on. But here's a little of how a working vacation goes for me...
Seaquest State Park, Washington State. The hike was gorgeous.
So how did it turn out? Not as well as I'd have liked. I want to be real so other writers don't feel like they're an odd duck. Here's the real deal...
On the dinner cruise. 

Timing. The timing was all off for me this year. It was our first vacation in eight years due to the economy. I'd have done better with a vacation later in the fall or smack dab in winter, in between books. Definitely after my commitment with judging books (I get paid to do that each summer) and after my daughter's wedding. Two things that took up most of my summer, time, and energy. Oh, did I mention I also started my college classes three weeks before that vacation time to get my genealogy degree?
The wedding prep...
Type. The RV vacation sounded great on the surface. But changing camping spaces every single day (Hubby wanted to do that) was exhausting and frustrating to me. We lost hours each day unhooking and moving. I really wanted to just stay in one place at least half the week rather than pull up camp and resettle each day. Not my kind of relaxation. But I did the best I could under the circumstances to work while moving. I often write while traveling in planes or if Hubby is driving. He's a quiet sort. That means lengthy talks on long rides don't really light up his day. Kind of perfect for a writer who has to get work done. We tend to spend more time talking or together in the late evening.

Yes, I really do work on the road while he drives, as long as I don't get motion sick from shadow flickers. Ugh.

Travel. Taking work along was a given because I had to fulfill contracts on time. This timing and type of travel wasn't as conducive as I thought it would be. I struggled with motion sickness when tall trees flipped shadows over my screen or page while moving. So I moved to the back of the RV and dropped the curtains. But then I'd still get bounced all over the place. I often use a dish cupboard liner to keep my laptop stuck to the RV table so it won't go sliding off onto the floor. I use a wireless keyboard in my lap. My mouse is on a mousepad that just happens to stick to the table all on its own. But the mouse likes to fly around sometimes. I've gotten good at reacting and catching a flying mouse.

The Columbia Gorge sternwheeler dinner cruise. Well worth the two-mile walk round trip to get there from the RV camp.

What did we do? Hubby and I like to hike and try unusual restaurants and experiences. So we did hike a couple of times in state parks. We did take an antique train ride (impromptu when we heard the whistle near our campground). Visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory was a definite tourist trap experience, but hey, it's cheesy and you have to have at least one of those on a vacation. We did walk over two miles roundtrip to catch a sternwheeler on the Columbia Gorge. That sternwheeler had a lovely dinner cruise. And we did pick blackberries that we made into chocolate blackberry ice cream for a spontaneous family dinner the night after we came home. Some very nice experiences.

Visiting Kelsey, she camped with us one night and then we took an antique steam train ride just because we heard the whistle blow!

Couldn't miss the blackberries!

Cheesy, but we had to stop...

We found a fun cave while hiking.

Hiking near the Columbia Gorge
Overall. I still had some fun, though I had a really hard time letting the business side sit while doing an activity each day. I felt an intense stress knowing things were backing up. I knew what was going to happen and it did. I had to pull two all-nighters when we got home so I could finish contracted work. I also had over 1,000 emails to process due to intermittent internet while on the road and emails that didn't download from the server for some reason. I finished the last two units of my first college class and prepped for the final. Then my daughter's wedding took first priority. And I had another 1,000 emails backed up due to wedding festivities... I created a new filtering system in my gmail account to help manage the volume of emails I get daily. All because these events this summer made it necessary.

Mariah is now married! Beautiful bride and wedding.
I finally took my final for Methodology I in my genealogy degree program the week after my daughter's wedding...and passed with a great score. (Eh, it's a B for my class but with all that was going on I feel like throwing a party...except that would take more work and planning thank you, I'll just take that B with a happy grin because I loved the class and I know what I was up against.)

Muse: You try tutoring Writer on summer schedule!
If a vacation isn't possible, realistically we can still take a couple of hours now and then to do something enjoyable. That something might give you new ideas, but it at least gets you out from behind your computer to refresh your mind in ways that work cannot do. (Remember, I'm a full-time writer and this is my day job. It might be different for a part-time writer who has a different day job.) It gets us time with our family or spouse to keep our relationships healthy.

As writers, we still have to meet our commitments. I hope to take a real vacation in the near future, but I'll be honest and tell you I don't think it's happening any time soon. Although, I'm saving my frequent flier miles working toward a bucket list research trip to Scotland. Hubby's not really looking forward to that one. Just like moving camp spots every day isn't my cup of tea, researching Scottish history and ancestors isn't his. But we still will find fun things to do together to build relationship and memories.

Final word. Boy, do I have more experiences I can draw on for books! I'm glad I've taken a day now and then or a few hours to keep putting life and experiences into my tool chest. Without them, I'd have little to draw on to build stories and characters.

Attracting Readers

Diana here:
I grabbed a copy of Nick Stephenson's Reader Magnets last year and learned the value of an email list to a writer. That's when I began to build my list because what he says made sense. While I don't have ten thousand people on my list it is getting bigger. 
Nick is offering his book free for a few days and I didn't want you to miss it. Even if you are still working on chapter one of your first book you need to get a mailing list started. I wish I had known that when I put up my first website. 
This ebook “Reader Magnets” breaks it all down for you. 
The best part – once it’s all set up (and the ebook will show you how to do this) this system will keep on working in the background. Which means you have more time to read this blog or write. 
Get it!
“Reader Magnets,” tells you how to leverage the traffic on Amazon Kindle (and the other ebook retailers) and use it to grow your own mailing list.
Amazon is one of the highest-trafficked sites on the web – and it’s filled with buyers. Your audience is on Amazon looking for you – and “Reader Magnets” will show you how to show up where people are already looking.
Even if you don’t have a book ready right now, Nick will show you a quick and easy way to get started – and see results fast.
Just click the link below, enter your email address, and you’re good to go: 
The free ebook will only be available for a limited time, so get your copy now.

Vacation: Have to Get Away

Jen here:

I love vacation, don’t you? There’s something about the idea of getting out of town and letting everything fall away, not having to worry about anything.

Well, it’s a nice idea. My vacations don’t look like that. And yours probably don’t either. It’s a lot of work to prep for the vacation and then dealing with the laundry and piled up mail and work when you get back. And even on my vacation, I generally still need to feed my family. Which, with four teen boys, is a lot of work. Most of the time, I still need to keep my email inbox under control, and I’ve had to write on all of my trips this summer. Not to mention, I’m always researching everywhere we go, looking for stories. I love that part, so it doesn’t feel like work. But I don’t spend much time laying on a beach doing nothing.

Refresh for efficiency

Even though it can be a lot of work to carve out space for a vacation, it’s still worthwhile. As Diana said in her post about sharpening the saw, we need to refresh ourselves so we can work more effectively. In one of our Pencildancer video conferences, we were talking about how to take care of ourselves on this marathon writing journey. And even though taking time out to do things that feel refreshing or like pampering might seem to slow us down, it actually makes us more efficient. That time of refreshment makes us more efficient and more effective when we get back to work.

Change your view

The other thing that is great about vacations is you get a change of scenery. This by itself is refreshing. It’s great just to look at something different. It activates different parts of your brain. If you are an endless researcher like I am, you imagine what it was like for the people that first settled this area. Or you wonder about the people who currently live there. It’s fresh fodder for your brain. It can give your creativity a shot in the arm.

Staycations work too

Many years, when I was a single parent, I didn’t have the ability to take a vacation. But what I would do was mark time off to do things locally with my kids that we normally didn’t do. Going to the zoo, taking a local train ride, going to the lake, canoeing down the river, making recipes that normally would be too complicated, like pizza or pretzels from scratch. It was about breaking out of routine, spending time together, and making memories.

Whatever the season of your life, create space on a regular basis to get away in some form. Your life and your creativity will benefit.