The problem with a self-imposed writing vacation — even if you want it and you’re pretty sure you need it — is that when it is something you really enjoy doing, and have been doing daily for years, it feels weird and bad to not be doing the thing. If I wanted to dig in deeper I could say something about how I never really got the feeling I could take a vacation when I was a kid; it was always about studying, or working hard, or doing something in order to prepare for my future.
(Now, both of my parents keep encouraging me to have fun, to not be so go-go-go all the time. I know that they have their regrets about being all work and no play types when I was a kid, and I know they don’t want me to fall into the same traps, but I am still my parents’ daughter.)
So even though I told myself I wasn’t going to worry too hard about writing until the end of July, even though I made plans to use this writing vacation time to do things like read more, and decompress, and find better balance with my adjusted schedule and the other major lifestyle changes I’ve been making… I keep feeling off about it. I feel bad that I am not writing, even though I was also struggling with it before. I’m feeling guilty that I’m barely making the small goals I set for myself, so I start thinking up new ones with bigger goals.
Which sort of defeats the point of a “writing vacation,” doesn’t it?
While I have been writing since about seventh grade, it was really only after I graduated from college when I started trying to make it a disciplined habit. I picked up working on it as a daily habit through 750words and right now, my streak stands at over 2000 days. That’s over five years where I have been doing it daily — over five years where I have been writing something every day. Sometimes they were just freewrites, sometimes they were blog entries, sometimes they were the pieces that I’d written or rewritten for editing passes. Even when I was on vacation or I was sick, I managed to do something every day.
So I mean, after five years, I think that rather solidly puts this into the realm of habit. Routine. All those things that it “should” be, when you want to write regularly.
But like I have said (many times it feels like, at this point), I have been struggling recently. Last year had its ups and downs, but I did feel like I’d come out of 2017 on a better note… and then 2018 came out swinging. Some things got better, but some things got worse; I had a fairly significant health issue pop up that necessitated some pretty big lifestyle changes. My mother had a pretty scary health issue pop up, and she’s improved right now, though it’s the sort of thing that she should see a doctor for and so far has refused. There’s the greater atmosphere of the world right now, how frightening and unsettling it is. Everything feels a bit extra right now.
Which is all stuff I’ve gone over before; after going through most of this year so far struggling, that’s why I decided that I needed to take this break. I genuinely think it will be good for me — I do understand that one can’t always be output, creatively; there has to be time where you intake stuff as well. That is the point of having a writing vacation at all.
But the past couple of weeks have definitely been full of a lot of me feeling guilty for not writing more. Even with the permission from myself, and with the efforts I have in working on other stuff, unrelated to writing, it’s been a struggle. And yet, at the same time, I am pretty sure that cutting this writing vacation short and trying to go back to that level of work on top of everything else isn’t going to help.
So I’m unsure of how to rejuggle things. I have made some theoretical plans and I have brainstormed ideas for other things I could try. Right now I’m considering trying to slowly step my way back up to at least a full 750 words a day of fiction more often than not. I’ve considered trying to go back and do some more edits for stuff I haven’t submitted yet, so that I can get them to a point where I feel confident about sending them out into the wider world.
And I don’t know yet how it’ll turn out! But for now, at least, the writing vacation is still on. Maybe it’ll be a vacation lite, maybe it’ll stay where it is, but we’ll see what happens in July.