Writers on Vacation

Even the most passionate, dedicated writer needs a break. Perhaps you’re in between projects, feel a bit bogged down by the process, or don’t have a clue where the plot of your story is headed. A vacation is a good way to step away from the writing process and give your mind a well-deserved respite. Trouble is, your brain may not be in total agreement. What then? Here are a few suggestions that will keep that creative brain happy while you maintain control as best you can.

Bits and Bobs

As you recline in that poolside chaise, you may become privy to conversations around you. Close your eyes and drink them in. Does an unusual name jump out? A situation or event? As your body relaxes, your brain can be researching on the sly. When you slather on the sunscreen, steal a glance at the conversationalists – there might be some story material there, free for the taking. Everyone has their phone with them, so create a list in your Notes app so you won’t forget those salacious bits you might want to disguise and use as your own.


Being a passenger means you are free to relax and let your brain have some fun. A notebook or the Notes app on your phone is handy here. Settings in nature (trees, mountains, rivers, etc.), town/street names, or the general weather (stormy, hot, snowing?) are all part of the sensory delight that immerses your readers deep into your story. Here’s an example:  While on vacation in Scotland, I was traveling by bus from one location to the other. I needed some villages and general geography for my WIP, so while my body took a break, my brain focused on the task at hand. By the time we arrived at our next stop, I had a list of some 12-15 fascinating towns and home names to consider – all authentic! It was fun, and saved me a lot of research time down the road.

Flight Delay?

Airports are a great place to watch people and hear them interact (also, train stations, etc. – anywhere where people gather). Watch and listen to how people act when they’re under stress, happy and excited, or dreading that next leg of their journey as their screaming kids have a meltdown in the middle of the terminal walkway. This is great conflict scene material, free for the taking! What kind of food is available for purchase? Why is the line in front of the Starbucks longer than any of the other vendors?

Bottom line – there’s little chance of that writer’s brain of yours remaining quiet for long. So, while you’re away from the computer and your structured writing setting, relax and let your brain have a vacation of its own making. For me? I don’t think my family will ever look at me without some measure of suspicion about what I’m smiling about, then typing into my phone. And I’m okay with that.

Image credit: Anne K. Hawkinson


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