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IWSG: Heading to the Lake House

August 7, 2013

Welcome to this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group where, thanks to the genius of Alex J. Cavanaugh, Insecure Writers Support Groupwriters all over the world-wide web gather to share their insecurities and triumphs. If you want to join us, click the linky and add your name to the list of some of the nicest writers on the web!
For this month’s post I have a question for my fellow writers. As it’s summertime all over the Northern Hemisphere, I’m watching people pack up their swimsuits and head to the lake house, where they will sit under shady oak trees sipping lemonade and ruminate on the folly of the daily grind.Image courtesy of Jo Ann Snover @ StockFresh
I’ve begun to wonder.
When everywhere the gainfully employed are kicking off their sneakers and running barefoot in the lawn, when do writers get a vacation? When will I feel entitled to set aside my storytelling wizard hat and turn into a normal human being for a spell?

Of course there are those who would mock me and say that sitting in front of a computer screen transcribing daydreams isn’t work at all. And, in that sense, they’re right. I do enjoy almost every single minute of my writing adventures. Even Image Courtesy of Marek Trawczynski @ StockFreshthinking about stopping makes me sad, and as Stephen King so aptly describes his compulsion to write in On Writing:

“… when I’m not working, I’m not working at all, although in those periods of full stop I usually feel at loose ends with myself and have trouble sleeping. For me, not writing is the real work.” (On Writing pages 148-149)

And yet, in contrast, he writes, about writing workshops, where entire days are devoted to writing one’s masterpiece:

“ … the larger the work looms in my day—the more it seems like an I hafta instead of just an I wanna—the more problematic it can become.” (On Writing page 235)

Image courtesy of Marek Trawczynski @StockFreshI think my issue lies somewhere in between these extremes: There is just so darn much I wanna do, that it’s starting to feel like I hafta.
I just crossed over 50k words on my latest WIP and that’s going gangbusters. If I could just focus on that I would be a happy camper. But I’m also more than halfway through posting my revised novel chapters at Critique Circle, and I’d really like to get through the whole book there. I’d love to devote more attention to all the courses at the Holly Lisle Boot Camps  I haven’t explored yet. And though I know I don’t post nearly enough here at A Scenic Route, I’ve even thought about declaring a blog hiatus.

I know. Blasphemy!

Image courtesy of ArenaCreative @ StockFreshSo, Insecure Writers, how do you decide when it’s time for a vacation? Is there a way to cut back and still be happy with one’s progress?

And would you guys really desert me if I missed a whole month of posting?





Footprint images courtesy of Image Courtesy of Marek Trawczynski, lake house courtesy Jo Ann Snover, vacation in sand courtesy of ArenaCreative @ StockFresh.
  1. Will permalink
    August 7, 2013 7:06 am

    Kirsten, great post, several thoughts. Not to toot my own horn, well actually yes, tooting- but I also blogged this week about the depths of despair I feel, about not being ABLE to write and the toil that marketing yourself feels like. Maybe the flip-side of the coin expressed here. I hope it’s worth a chuckle- the places your mind goes sometimes…

    But my “work” routine has always been messy: from a home office in a house that is also a home school, no walls or doors on the ground floor, and sitting at the same PC whether researching for work or writing my WiP… early morning wake-up (three cats), no real vacations to speak of. The days blend together for me, and writing happens like mortar, between the bricks of work and family. I’ve come to a halt recently because my story is so hard- I just need to keep watching the world and see how it really happens before I move on. But it doesn’t feel good to be unproductive, that’s for sure. No easy answer.

    But on the subject of vacation, I should mention a good friend of mine. Urban professional, very high functioning guy, skilled, hard worker. In his mid-thirties he came to a point where he didn’t want his current job anymore. He’s no spendthrift, had plenty set aside, so he said “I’m going to take a couple years of my retirement now”. Didn’t work for almost three years- he quit smoking, met the woman who later became his wife, and when he was darn good and ready, went back to work. He’s done that I think three times now. THAT, I could get into, you know?

    • August 7, 2013 8:08 pm

      Now that’s cool, and what I call a real vacation! I wish more people had a chance to take a year or two away from the daily routine to explore …
      And good thoughts about writing happening between the bricks of everyday life. It does feel that way sometimes and it’s all good.
      It’s just that sometimes there’s a bit too much good!

  2. August 7, 2013 1:04 pm

    I take vacations whenever I’m at a point where I can’t see the next part. Rarely do I take them in between projects. But I often end up with a break somewhere in Act II. Go figure. As for blog hiatus, I take those the second I realize I’m falling behind or I have things i’m not allowed to talk about.

    • August 7, 2013 8:12 pm

      Yes, I’ve noticed that you disappear once in a while, and it doesn’t affect my interest in reading your posts one bit. 🙂
      I rarely stop writing a story in the middle, although I’ve slowed down sometimes. A plethora of projects is a good thing though– a problem I never thought I’d have! Maybe that’s why I’m having some troubles managing them.

  3. August 7, 2013 2:32 pm

    I actually see a “vacation” now as a break from blogging! Lol….I did that back in May and it really re-energised me 🙂


    • August 7, 2013 8:14 pm

      You post a lot more than I do though, Vikki! I’m already a ‘slow blogger’ so if I blog any less I’ll disappear!
      A month away does seem like a good option though.

      • August 8, 2013 5:32 pm

        Go for it! A break will allow you to recharge your batteries 😉


  4. August 7, 2013 4:01 pm

    I am right in the Hafta camp. It seems like the harder I work the more there is to do. Revising, editing, drawing maps, working with artist, figuring out self-pubbing, writing new first draft, and then my wife actually wants me to do something else — is she insane 🙂 Seriously, there is just not enough time to do what has to be done and having down time just feels like I am be negligent. The only time, recently, that I was able to get away from all of it was when I went out of the country on vacation and promised my wife I wouldn’t take my laptop (though on the plane there and back I did pull out my legal pad and make notes). We were gone for two weeks and by the second week I was doing okay. But it can get pretty expensive having to go out of country anytime I want to become a normal human being 😦

    Oh well, I guess I am stuck!

    • August 7, 2013 8:16 pm

      I don’t know how you do all that Papabear! But you do, and that amazes me. I hope you find a way to get back into the land of I Wanna.
      Because I’d hate to lose you in I Hafta. 😉

  5. August 7, 2013 5:00 pm

    Seems weird people are still heading to lake houses . . . first day for students is tomorrow here! I agree with King–I don’t feel myself when I don’t write a little bit each day, but it is good to step away from the shiny object from time to time 🙂

    • August 7, 2013 8:19 pm

      My boss just got back from his lake house ‘Up North’ as we say here in Illinois. But school starts soon here too, so not much time to linger.
      I can be happy for a few days without words as long as I’m doing something fun, but I usually feel excited to make up the deficit with a huge word count very soon after that!

  6. August 7, 2013 5:51 pm

    Yes we would miss you!
    I’m taking a vacation tomorrow. Just a couple days, mostly unplugged (not completely – can’t do that) and I know it will be good for me. If we go and go, even if it’s writing, eventually we burn out.
    It sounds like you are doing everything possible – and then some!

    • August 7, 2013 8:23 pm

      Aww, thanks! I would miss my blog friends too and that’s part of why I keep coming back. 🙂
      I’m doing an awful lot, and every so often I think I might have to prune back my project list to include only what matters most.
      A Scenic Route is still high on that list!

      Have fun on your vacation! 🙂

  7. August 7, 2013 7:50 pm

    Desert you? Never. I do recommend taking a bit of time off, however. Don’t worry though, you’ll still be thinking about writing. I haven’t learned how to turn that off, but I’ll let you know if I do.

    • August 7, 2013 8:28 pm

      Ah, yes, thinking about writing … there is nothing more delicious than daydreaming about my story during a quiet time, and then writing a few lines of ideas down in a stolen moment. I hope I never have to turn that off!
      Anyway, if you don’t see me for a few weeks, don’t worry! I’m off refilling the well. 🙂

  8. August 7, 2013 9:16 pm

    Because I’ve been kept from my WIP, writing (in perfect peace and quiet, for hours at a time) would BE a vacation. 😛

    Great post! 🙂
    August co-host and IWSG #110

    • August 7, 2013 10:31 pm

      And that is totally what I’m going to do! I’m just loving my WIP right now, and all I want to do is shoot through to the end. 🙂
      (Thanks for the image link-and a cool new stock photo site. Can’t wait to use these little guys! )

  9. August 7, 2013 10:09 pm

    PS – here’s the image link. 🙂

  10. August 8, 2013 12:24 am

    Hey Kirsten,

    You know I for one (among MANY) would miss your wise words, and not having read the above comments, all I would say is take a blog vacation to concentrate on your WIP and revisions. I know I’ve done that – and having focused on WIP – was able to come back and have fun again (I consider my blog to be my “treat” writing.)

    I think the main thing is to focus on the writing that can help move your career forward – especially if you only have limited writing hours per day.

    • August 8, 2013 7:30 pm

      Excellent point. This blog started as a way for me to get used to putting my words out there for others to read, and I’ve made huge progress in that area! Huge. In fact, you’re right, sharing my words and having people respond to them is a bit of a boost and a real pleasure. 🙂
      It’s all good.
      But I should look at the big picture. If I need more time for revisions that’s what I need to focus on.
      And I’ll tell you a secret. This is the first time I’ve considered this writing thing a ‘career’! I should probably do that more often if I want to move it forward. 😉

  11. August 8, 2013 12:55 am

    I read On Writing a long time ago… might have to pull it out and read it again.. so many great things in there. Love this post.

    • August 8, 2013 7:32 pm

      On Writing is one of the first books I read when I decided to write my first book. It’s still one of the best ones I’ve studied and I go back to it so often that I can pretty much quote whole sections!
      I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂

  12. August 8, 2013 5:11 am

    Hi Kirsten, of course I would miss reading your words but, rather than deserting you, I would be eagerly awaiting your return to the blogosphere. I became so bogged down with my editing and read so many sad dispirited posts from the writers amongst my blogging friends that, as you probably already noticed, I have adopted a new strategy for my blog for August. I am mostly satisfying my creative needs by taking photographs and filling pages of a journal with overheard snippets and my own new ideas for a series of articles. My favourite photos are appearing on the blog. I am only editing my novel when I am feeling positive about doing so because if I get into a “hafta” mood now I will never make it through; I know that phase will come in the deadline-filled last couple of months before publication. I guess you will just have to choose between your projects to keep yourself in “wanna mode” and, from what you have said, I think stepping back from your blog for a month would help.

    • August 8, 2013 7:38 pm

      I love all your photographs!
      And I hope I never have a lot of sad dispirited posts. I put the writing aside when I start to feel that way about it–though I don’t know what that means for my publishing future. Fortunately, the times I hate my words are rare.
      We’ll see what happens on the blog. I just feel as if I need to take the pressure off for a short while.
      Meanwhile, keep posting those lovely flowers!

  13. August 11, 2013 1:00 pm

    Please forgive me as I only pop in once a month! That for me is the hardest part. Visiting all my bloggy buddies. The IWSG post day (week for me!) is the easiest for me to remember. I usually spend Wed. through Sun. popping in on folks.

    Vacations are wonderful. I’m headed out on Thursday to New Mexico for an extended girl’s weekend. Can’t wait! As for blog breaks. I break when I need to. I put my family, work, my writing and then me first. If I can pull together a blog or two a week, I’m doing good. 🙂

    I love King’s book. I’ve read it several times, and it sits on my computer desk, as a constant reminder.

    If you take a break, I don’t think anyone would desert you. But you may have to pop in over at my place and kick me in the butt to let me know you’re back. 😀

    • August 12, 2013 7:12 pm

      It’s always great to see you here, no matter when you stop by! And that’s exactly it. While I really enjoy checking out everyone’s blog, between posting and visiting it can start to become too much.
      I’ve read quite a few writing books by now, but On Writing is the one I always come back to. How Stephen King managed to fit so much wisdom into such a smallish book (especially for him!) is a tribute to his talent.

      I’m glad to know no one would desert me! I feel the same way about my bloggy buddies too. 🙂

  14. August 12, 2013 6:54 am

    Candilynn is right. Sometimes it’s hard to read all the blogs I want to read. When I follow a blog that takes a ‘vacation’ I don’t usually miss it, but I do go back to reading it when the person starts writing again. Everyone needs a vacation.

    • August 12, 2013 7:17 pm

      I would miss your blog! Between pictures of sailing in the Bahamas and dogs frolicking on beaches along with some great writing advice, your posts are always a bright spot in my Inbox. 🙂

  15. August 12, 2013 6:23 pm

    It’s funny, because even when we’re not writing, we’re thinking about writing. As a matter of fact, that’s when stuff comes to me and I rush to scribble down strange notes. We must all take a brain break from time to time, for sure. I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

    • August 12, 2013 7:20 pm

      Hi Julie,
      Welcome to A Scenic Route!
      Yeah, it’s funny what even a day or two away from my stories can turn up!
      In fact, ever since this post I’ve felt the pressure ease off, and a new post practically wrote itself today. 🙂

  16. August 15, 2013 1:00 pm

    This is a great post! I enjoyed reading this very much.

    • August 16, 2013 8:31 pm

      I’m glad you liked it! And thanks for stopping by to let me know. 🙂

  17. August 15, 2013 4:59 pm

    I wouldn’t desert you if you took a whole month off blogging, or even longer. I’d miss your posts, but I’d still be around when you have a new post 🙂

    • August 16, 2013 8:34 pm

      That’s good to know! It does strike me as strange to unsubscribe from someone just because they haven’t posted, but I’ve heard that some people do that.
      BTW, I feel the same way about your Perilous Realms of Wonder blog. 😉 I would hate to miss a single post!

  18. August 19, 2013 12:22 pm

    Well, having missed two or three months at a whack this year, I certainly wouldn’t desert you 😉

    • August 19, 2013 3:53 pm

      I’m glad you’re back! I think we might be the ultimate slow bloggers, but what has always mattered to me is the content, not the frequency.
      So I think you’re good there. 🙂

  19. August 29, 2013 12:29 pm

    I’ve never tried Scrivener, but it looks amazing from your pics. I multi-task in my writing. I think I’d get a lot more done if I stuck to one project at a time though.

    • August 29, 2013 12:30 pm

      LOL, I was trying to leave a comment on your newest post, and somehow, it ended up here!!!

      • September 2, 2013 3:46 am

        That’s all right, Candilynn!
        I envy one project at a time writers so much because they do seem to make such nice measurable progress. Finding a way to measure my own scattered progress might make me a happier writer. 🙂

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