What A Writer Does Over Summer Vacation

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We went to Maine (Ogunquit beach, left) and Schroon Lake (right).

I went on vacation this past week, and for the first time in years, I didn’t plan to write anything. That in itself is a personal triumph: I’ve finally understood that I need to stop working occasionally, and I need my own permission to do so. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and sometimes I require a total reboot.

But just as one is still a mother when her children aren’t present, I am still carrying around my writer’s soul and brain even if I’m not actively writing. And I can’t resist writing things down when I get ideas. So instead of doing absolutely nothing, I did the following:

  • Wrote two blog posts. One for this site, and one for DIY MFA (releasing in a few weeks). I had planned to have both finished before I left, but last minute packing and family 4th of July events got the better of me. Still, I didn’t feel rushed to complete them. In fact, the extra thinking time gave me a much better idea for my DIY MFA post, and when I sat down to write it, it was a lot easier than my original notes had been.
  • Came up with a cool new idea for a Twitter chat, bouncing off the DIY MFA post.
  • Sketched out a page on something that might be an article, or might be something more, about how knowing yourself better can make you a better parent.
  • Thought a lot about the three characters in my next, newest book: Tess, Hazel, and Gloria.
  • Wrote down several scene ideas for each character, which will be helpful when I start working on the book in earnest today.
  • Tried very hard not to think about The Loss of Our Mothers (formerly Blizzard) which is still being beta-read by several people, including my agent Suzie and her assistant Sara. Vacation was a good distraction. I want it totally off my mind so that when people come back with edits, and when I do my own re-read, I can look at it objectively.



I also read a lot. At least five books in ten days, including Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Both SO good.

Not a lot for ten days, but still more than the “nothing” I’d had planned! What do you do over your summer vacations that looks like work, but doesn’t feel like it?

3 Responses to “What A Writer Does Over Summer Vacation”

  1. I totally understand the need for a break (I need one myself!), and how writing seems to creep in, even when we say we’re taking a vacation. (There’s nothing like deciding not to do something to make me want to do it more…) It sounds like your trip was just what you needed.

    I usually write in my journal a lot while I’m on vacation, and I always take more books than I can read. I can remember only once running out of reading material, but it made a big impression on me.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Kathy, running out of reading material would be my biggest nightmare! Not much chance of that as long as there is a Kindle and WiFi these days, but still. I spend a lot of time before a vacation creating the perfect blend of vacation reads. Probably more time than I spend packing my clothes!

      • Yes, running out of books to read was definitely a nightmare. It was before the Kindle existed, and I was at a lake house with no internet–the horror! I’ve never made the same mistake again, and I spend at least as much, if not more, time choosing books as I do clothes when I go on vacation. Priorities, you know.

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