I’m currently on holiday with my wife, staying in a rented condo on the Alabama coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s commonly known as the ‘Redneck Riviera’, and one can see why from the tall blocks of condominiums lining parts of the coast. Here’s the view from our balcony shortly after sunrise yesterday.
Lovely, isn’t it? But thereby hangs a question for you.
I’m continuing to write while on holiday. In my case it’s really force majeure, because ten years ago a serious injury left me partly disabled. One of the consequences is that I suffer from back and leg pain 24/7/365. I can’t sleep for more than a few hours before my back stiffens into a locked position and the pain wakes me. I’m usually awake by 3-4 a.m. Rather than waste the time until my wife gets up or I can get on with other things, I use the time to write. That’s what I’m doing even while on vacation.
On the other hand, I know some authors believe this to be a very bad thing. They say they need to ‘switch off’ their writing brain and relax completely, not thinking about their books or stories at all. They’d rather set them aside, go on holiday, and pick them up again when they get back.
What say you? Is writing something you can, or want to, set aside while you’re on vacation; or do you regard it as a daily occupation or task, irrespective of whatever else you’re doing?
There’s also the question of what we do to ‘switch off’, and how much time we need to do so. I’ve been influenced since the 1980’s by an article that claimed it takes most of us a week to properly relax after a long period at work or under stress. It stated that if we took one week’s vacation, we’d have only just achieved an initial state of relaxation by the time we had to get back to work. On the other hand, if we took two weeks off, the second week would be truly relaxing because we’d be able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves, having ‘sloughed off’ the stresses and tensions of work and home. However, a third week of vacation might be ‘too much of a good thing’, because we’d be ‘holidayed out’ by then and no longer enjoying ourselves as much. The author suggested instead a second two-week vacation in due course.
Again, I’d like your opinion as writers. Is a week off enough time to relax, or do you need more? I find two weeks to be a very good break, and during the years I was working I saved up my vacation hours until I had enough to take a fortnight off. However, I know others disagree. They’d rather take a long weekend or a week here and there, enjoying more frequent vacations at the expense of longer ones. I don’t think that’s the right approach to getting fully relaxed and recharged, but ‘to each his own’, as they say in the classics.
What works for you to restore your creativity?