I tend to have two kinds of vacations. The first is more of a retreat where I get away from the distractions of the world and really buckle down. I design a new fractal algorithm, I write several chapters of a novel I’m working on, or I even begin the preliminary designing for a game.
Then there are other vacations where my main accomplishment is playing all of Portal 2 and lots of card games.
This last week was the latter variant, which is not a bad thing. I spent some time in the cold of the Poconos enjoying the company of my in-laws and wife, playing games of pool in a garish activity center, and getting my butt handed to me in air hockey in the same arena.
Part of my telling you this is to say that the next chapter of The Sky Below will release next week not this week, as I managed to only get about half a draft of the chapter this week. The trouble with not writing most of the week is you feel a bit rusty and it takes a bit to get back up into the same level of production.
So as usual I’m fighting the battle between whether it was good to break from routine and reset my brain, or whether I should have made more of an effort to keep a regular schedule and produce since now I’m having to take time to get back in the swing of things.
Well first off family time is never time wasted, as is quality time with one’s wife, something that is important for the driven writer to remember. We do this because we have stories to tell, but the source of a lot of those stories is our relationships and it’s good to take time to work on them.
Second, even as I sit down here at my laptop in my office I can sense that the routine is coming back to me. I have to go to work in a little while, and I’ll experience some of the same phenomena, wondering how missing only six business days can make me feel so lost for a little while. But it’ll come back to me if I’m not asleep after a couple of hours of morning meetings.
Third, it is never a productive use of time to beat yourself up about time you should have been writing. Better to enjoy the performances of Stephen Merchant and J. K. Simmons in Portal 2 then to feel guilty about playing a game for 10 hours. What you should really feel guilty about was watching those seven Man From U.n.c.l.e.s and your only reading being Bloom County and All Star Superman.
Fourth, as much as writing is a routine, it does have rhythm and an ebb and a flow. While I’m not an advocate for succumbing to that flow on a daily basis, sometimes you might need to on a quarterly, or yearly basis just to hit the reset button. No car keeps running without regular oil changes or filling the gas tank. And writing is work just as much as your real job. Sometimes you need a vacation from both.
But hey, I’m back now and I’ll get to work on Chapter Six tonight. I promise you’ll see it next week and I’ll figure out something you’ll enjoy on Thursday in the meantime.