Writing on Vacation: More Progress Than in a Month at Home

 

One son’s family.

Prepare, Escape, Progress

 

I didn’t believe it would work, but it did.

Prepare

It was hellish. I’d be gone twelve days on vacation. Blog posts still needed to be written and published. I had endorsements to garner for my nonfiction book on writing. Another publisher required I fill out four work-intensive forms on their system. I had interview questions to answer.

I didn’t write one word on my story the week before we left for the Dominican Republic. That week, as I worked hard to get tasks done in advance, I made myself a promise, one I wasn’t sure I could keep. I told myself I’d have fun writing my story while sipping a virgin lime concoction and lounging on the beach under palms swaying in the Punta Cana breezes.

Escape

Once the airplane lifted off a Charlotte, NC runway, my muscles relaxed. I opened my MacBook Air, and I was no longer on the stuffy airplane but in my fictional town, falling in love with my hero and enjoying the cleverness of my heroine.

We arrived in Punta Cana at a resort we enjoy. Just as I remembered, the breezes chased away heat and humidity, the bright sunshine danced on aqua water, and fronds on tall palms provided shade. We spent the rest of the travel day orienting our children and grandchildren to the resort. We’d invited them along for the first six days. Then we lavished our tummies on the endless offerings the main restaurant laid out in numerous buffets. No meals to plan, shop for, or prepare.

Progress

I spent time with my family, snorkeling, sailing on a small catamaran with my husband, and building sand castles with the kids. But while they enjoyed the sun at the pool and my husband windsurfed, I crept away to my favorite beach spot, where my fingers translated the images in my mind into words on my MacBook Air.

 

It was almost heaven. When I needed to mull over a scene, I closed the laptop and looked at water, sand, and palms, instead of the piles of papers from ten different marketing projects on my desk, table, and floor, those annoying stacks that always made me feel anxious. In our room for an hour before breakfast and another before turning out the lights, I inserted all the cool edits that rose in my uncluttered mind during the night or day.

This most enjoyable time away taught me how important vacations or retreats are. Time away from all the tasks that are not writing and from our homes and their problems can unleash creativity. (Our freezer died and the hot water heater started leaking right before we left.)

The place doesn’t have to be ten days on a tropical island. It could be a

         week in a cabin by the river,

                  weekend in a motel with a view,

                           day in a national forest,

                                    housesitting someone’s house, or

                                             camping at a lake.

Writing on vacation can be fun and highly productive. Click to tweet.

When have you been away from home and enjoyed a productive writing session?

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Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond, Virginia. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, star football player and prom king Trigg Alderman, is in Twisty Creek visiting his grandmother who lives next door to Candace’s family home. He doesn’t recognize her at first and remembers little about her. He’s not alone. Candace’s rekindled attraction to Trigg adds unexpected complications to finding her passions. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

Most Authors Write Alone, But Here’s One Co-Author Worth Considering

“All writers find themselves – at some point – in the desert. A place where they feel isolated. Burnt out. Disheartened. Fearful.” —Allen Arnold

image by evafelizitas
image by evafelizitas

Was last year’s writing experience less outstanding than you hoped? Possibly, you’re working as if you’re an orphan—not so much alone—but as an orphan. I’ll expand on this.

I listened to Allen Arnold’s CDs, “God’s Disruptive Invitation into Creative Intimacy.”

image by Unsplash
image by Unsplash

Here are points Arnold made that changed how I approach writing:

  • Like many, I thought my writing was a noble quest because I wrote for God. I believe God called me to write, but now I realize He called me to write with Him, not for Him.

 

  • God calls me into a relationship with Him. What I do grows first from my relationship with Him and then from the writing gifts and desires He’s given me.
  • image by nasirkhan
    image by nasirkhan
    I asked myself: Why do I throw up a prayer for God to help me write for Him and then proceed to create on my own. Like I’m an orphan.
  • Then I asked myself: Am I more about production than relationship, i.e. more about word count than seeking God’s lead?
  • Finally, I asked myself: Why would I want to create on my own like I’m an orphan, when I can work side by side with the Creator of all things?

When I seek my Co-Author constantly, I receive more direction from Him than when I throw up prayers and then work like an orphan.

image by ranbud
image by ranbud

How exciting to work with the Co-Author who created peacocks, mountains, and sunshine.

Create WITH the Creator of hippos, instead of creating FOR Him. Click to tweet.

image by ardelfin
image by ardelfin

How have you worked with God on a project?

How to Salvage Your Sagging Creative Work with Spontaneous Absurdity

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.”

 —Henry Miller

file4391309901763.jpgSometimes a project droops like one of Dali’s clocks. Can you salvage the painting, the scene, or the children’s activity?

When your creative work slumps, do something spontaneously absurd to it.

No. Don’t throw or destroy your work. Ask, “With my creativity still intact, but my internal editor turned off, what would I like to do right now to this work?” Then do it.

You may be surprised that your work improves three-fold.

See what I mean in these fictitious examples of Spontaneous Absurdity.

Example 1

id-1004940.jpgThe work: Wade paints a jade-green rubber tree houseplant. He’s eager to add the pièce de résistance: the new yellow shoot.

Sinking Realization: Wade paints the yellow budding leaf and steps back. Humpf. It’s still a rubber tree houseplant. Even he can resist this pièce.

Spontaneous Absurdity: How about a plant from another planet? While the paint is wet, Wade recreates the shoot into a corkscrew that ends in a burst of fuchsia.

§§§

Example 2

Ending of Jeanne’s Novel:

Arthur took Megan into his arms, lowered his head, and kissed her. Her heart pounded. She’d spend her life with this handsome man.

Jeanne’s Critique Partner’s Note: Something’s missing. Actually, a lot.

Spontaneous Absurdity: Okay. How about this for something!

id-10075211.jpgArthur led Meghan through the downpour into the summerhouse. He drew her to him and cupped her head, a drop of water threatening to fall from the curl hanging over his forehead.

Goosebumps prickled Meghan’s arms. Would he finally kiss her?

As he lowered his lips toward hers, she placed her fingertips to his pursed lips. “I’ve called you Arthur from the beginning. The name is so formal, don’t you think? Now that you seem about to press your lips to mine, may I call you Art?”

He grinned and rubbed his nose against hers. “Only if I may call you Meg.” The drop fell from his curl and ran down her cheek like a tear. “Don’t cry, Meghan. I won’t call you Meg.”

She fluttered her lashes. “You see, Meg is the name of our neighbor’s pet skunk. But you may shorten my name to Han.”

He brushed her lips with his, sending tingles up her neck.

“Okay. Then you may shorten Arthur to Hur. I like that better than Art.”

She giggled. “How delightful. Hur and Han. What an interesting beginning to our relationship, Hur.”

“No, lovely Han. This is an interesting beginning to our relationship.” He sank his lips onto hers.

§§§ 

Example 3

file000608292008.jpgAngela’s Preschool Activity: “Cut lips like this example and paste them to your Valentine for a kiss.”

Preschoolers: “Mommy says I’m left-handed. I can’t use these scissors.” “I need help. I can’t cut around the bumps.” “I have only one lip. Sniff. By accident.”

Spontaneous Absurdity: Angela extracts her Red Rumba lipstick from her purse and a tissue. She zips from child to child, smoothing on lipstick to their puckered lips, and then wipes the lipstick clean for the next child. “Kiss your valentine as many times as you wish.”

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  • Spontaneous absurdity can salvage your ailing creative work.
    click to tweet

What bit of spontaneous absurdity improved your creative work?