I took a week off to write. Here’s what I learned.

I’ve always been a big fan of the staycation. To me, vacation doesn’t have to be about going somewhere; all I really need is an extended period of time with a different routine that somehow makes me happy.

Enter last week’s writing vacation. I took five days off from the day job to get caught up on my own projects. I got up at the usual time, exercised at the usual time, and then spent the usual 9-to-5 work hours on my writing. On Monday, I set the following goals:

  • 10,000 words on Black Yonnix 2.
  • Finish up the copy edit of another writer’s novel.
  • Patch up a sci fi short story and submit it to at least one publication.

Goals set, I got to work. I spent mornings at my desk, cranking out the next chunk of my pirate epic. Then I’d have lunch and relocate for a bit, to a coffee shop, a brewery, or (more often than not) just for a walk. Upon my return, a quick half hour of video games would cleanse the palate, and then it was back to work. Evening time was often used to socialize or handle a couple of chores.

How’d I do?

  • I beat my Black Yonnix goal and wrote 10,004 words. That’s a big ol’ checkmark.
  • I did not finish that copy edit, but I put a solid dent in the thing and edited two other short stories, about 100 pages total.
  • My sci fi short story got a solid patch job, but I decided to resubmit it to my lovely writing group for another round of reviews before sending it off for potential publication.

Pretty solid, I’d say–and, above and beyond making very clear progress on a bunch of projects, very informative. So what did I learn?

  • Chaining yourself to a desk for a few hours isn’t so bad when it’s to deeply focus on something you’re really, really into. The day job’s nice and all, but it doesn’t get the juices flowing quite like pulling pirate stories out of my butt. I’m reminded of that old saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” And while I think that’s a bit oversimplified, there’s certainly at least a little something to it.
  • Being able to focus on a single task without interruption is the best. This is something modern office jobs fail at pretty miserably. There’s always someone who needs something immediately, or some meeting you barely need to be involved in, or something that’s broken…it’s just so inefficient, and very not fun.
  • Breaking up the day with a change of scenery can be so damn refreshing–and leads to better work. I’ve known this one for a while, but there’s a big difference between sneaking away to Dunkin’ for a watery iced coffee and legitimately relaxing with a latte or an IPA somewhere that’s actually pleasant. Oh look, another thing that traditional office work fails at miserably!
  • But in actual writing news, let’s talk word counts. I learned that when I’m focused and I have the time, 2,500 words in a day is a cakewalk. I hit 10,004 words early Thursday afternoon without feeling particularly stressed out about it.
  • And I learned that I can do that because the banter is always there when I need it. A little bit of fun back and forth with occasional elements of exposition mixed in is a great way to pad the word count while keeping the readers happy. At this point in my writing career I know exactly what I’m good at, and it’s fucking around.

In short–that was a good week.