Do Me a Favor and Go Easy on Yourself, Okay? (A Love Letter)

Hey guys, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s summertime! Today in Portland it is a perfect summer day: blue sky, not too hot, a nice breeze. I’ve been taking regular breaks outside to read and knit, shooing yellow jackets away (we have a nest on the driveway).

But last week it was hot, beastly hot. And on hot weather and perfect summer days both I like to relax. I like to indulge myself with the afore-mentioned knitting, my new hobby of rug hooking, a little reading. On hot summer days I want to eat popsicles and fruit and drink chilled white wine and have dinners under the stars that last until bedtime.

None of which is conducive to writing.

Which makes me beat myself up something fierce.

Like: why are you wasting your time knitting? Why are you drinking that glass of wine? You’ve not gotten your word count yet? Why are you reading? Why are you taking time to do the crossword puzzle? Why are you relaxing? Why aren’t you writing.

Like that.

If you are anything like me, I bet you do the same thing. And to you (and to me) I had two words to say: stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Just stop it.

Because: it is summertime and we’re supposed to be distracted. We are supposed to be enjoying long, lazy afternoons lazing about. And also: believe it or not, relaxation and, dare I say it, self-care, actually help you get all your important things (like writing) done. Truly. A relaxed mind is a productive mind.

Truly, it is. Over and over again I notice that on the days I allow myself some ease, a few breaks out back or time with the grandchildren, I get more done. And this is because I’m not frantically trying to stuff every little thing into my day. Try it. You’ll see.

Your assignment this week, if you choose to accept it, is two-fold. First, quit beating yourself up about how lazy you are. And second, give yourself the gift of some summer time off.

Then leave a comment and tell me how you are going to let yourself off the hook this week!

7 Reasons to Write While on Vacation (and 3 Reasons Not To)

I’m a firm believer in writing every day, even if it is just jotting down a few notes or writing a journal entry. Writing regularly has so many benefits to your writing career, including:

–keeping the writing muscle strong

–keeping the momentum going (more on that below)

–staying on track with a project such as a novel or memoir

–aiding in writing fluidity–the more you write, the easier it is

–improving your writing–the more you write the better you get

I could go on. But I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of life events leading you away from your writing. When you return, it feels awkward. You’re not sure what to write. The words won’t flow. You wonder why you ever wanted to do something that is so, so hard.

One major life event we all experience (hopefully regularly) is a vacation. And I’m here to encourage you to keep writing when you go on vacation in order to prevent the writing angst when you return.  You can make actual progress on a long project, write notes about it, or simply write in your journal. But I honestly think you’ll be a happier writer if you make an effort to throw at least a few words on the page. Because a working writer is a happy writer.  And writing while on vacation has more benefits as well:

Why You Should Keep Up The Writing

–It will help you with the afore-mentioned momentum, which is a delicate, fragile, thing, easily broken.  When you have momentum, you arrive at your computer every morning knowing what you’re going to write next and the words just come. It is a glorious thing, not to be tampered with.

–You can (and should) note all the new and wonderful things you are hopefully observing and enjoying.

–If you’re like me, writing makes you happy. And you want to be happy on your vacation!

–It will be so, so much easier to get back to that book when you get home. It is not only that the writing will be easier when you return, but just dragging your ass to open the computer will be easier.  (If you’ve had a long break, you know how hard it is to get started again.)

–On vacation, your brain will be roiling with fresh, new ideas. Capture them!

–It will help you remember and process the fun you had.  I remember and process things through writing, period. If I need to remember something, I write it down, even if I never refer to it again. If I’m in a class, I take notes, or else my mind wanders. Keep it focused.

–All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy.

Okay, and in the interest of fairness, here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t write on vacation.

Why You Shouldn’t Keep Up The Writing

–Because all work and no play also makes Jack a dull boy.

–Because you don’t wanna, and you’re on vacation, damnit.

–Because sometimes it is good to give your story brain a break, for God’s sake.

Which side do you fall down on? Are you going to try to keep writing this summer on vacation? Leave a comment!

And, for my money, the best kind of vacation combines writing and fun. Right? That’s why I love teaching in France every year.

 

7 Ways to Make Lazy Summer Days Work to Your Advantage

It's hot.  It's summer.  The living is easy and all that.  Who wants to work?  Who wants to think? Who wants to write?  Isn't it ever so much better to take a vacation, to relax, lie on the beach, doze, tan…languish.

But there are things to be done, words to be written!
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Ah, to hell with it.

If you don't want to work, don't.  

Really, just don't.  And so, in the spirit of taking a break from it all, here are some ways you can not work and still feel productive.

1.  Use the power of your subconscious (sometimes called noodling).  Read a paragraph or a page or a chapter of your project, command your subconscious to ponder it, and go do something else, like meet friends for Happy Hour.

2.  Read a book.  Or books.  Summertime is made for reading.  Read trashy guilty pleasures, read  literature, read poetry, read memoirs.  Just read.  Writers can teach themselves a lot through reading, and if you don't read why do you want to write?  Just sayin'.

3.  Meditate.  Or do what I do, and start to meditate and then doze off.   Its refreshing either way.

4.  Nap.  See above.

5. Drive.  God, I love a road trip.  Nothing like long roads and crossing vast expanses of space to liberate the mind.

6. Change your venue.  If you must work, go someplace else.  Take your laptop out in the yard, or to an air-conditioned coffeeshop.  Change your location and allow new impressions in.

7. Forget about it.  For real.  Put the computer to sleep and head out for a refreshing day off, whether you go to the beach, the mountains, or enjoy an urban adventure (museums! fountains! shopping! movies!)

What do you think?  What are your favorite ways of playing hooky?  How do you convince yourself that you are really working?