Friday, June 22, 2012

Take a Writing Vacation

The summer solstice has just past. The folks at Stonehenge got soaking wet as they gathered to celebrate it and watch the sunrise. For the rest of us, the solstice means thinking about taking some time off.  For writers, that’s not always easy to do. So as the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” In other words, don’t try to get away from your writing but maybe do something different that will improve it.

If money is tight, you can always take a staycation—that is, stay at home and do things you wouldn’t normally do. Instead of writing, you might want to create a reading program for yourself. Study the works of a particular writer you admire or find several with different writing styles and compare them. See how their techniques can help you in your writing. Work on your style.

An alternative to this is while on your staycation, write something opposite to what you normally write. Try something different. Have fun with writing for a change—no deadlines, no editors, just you and your words.

If you can afford it in both time and money, you might consider enrolling in a writer’s colony. Writers' colonies are good, especially if you've come to a point in your career when what you need most is to complete a long project with time off from the hectic realities of everyday writing and family responsibilities. Some writers find these communities of writers in tranquil surroundings the perfect solution to what they've been searching for.

Some colonies offer lots of time to socialize, at least around the dinner table. There’s nothing better than conversing with other writers. It expands your outlook and may give you ideas on improving your work. At other colonies, everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. Some take beginning writers, others do not. It’s important to check before you apply and to speak with other writers who have spent time at the one you're contemplating before you make the leap. If you don't know anyone who's been to one, write to a writer listed in the colony brochure for advice.

You may have to send samples of your work along with your application form. Most colonies require that you get a recommendation from a former visitor. And some require you to send along a work plan or explanation of what you hope to accomplish at the colony.

If you don’t have the time to enroll in an established writers’ colony, perhaps you may be lucky enough to find another writer who has a vacation cabin or beach house that will invite you and a couple of others to stay for a week of writing. One writer gets together with several writer friends at a bungalow in New Jersey once a year. They write during the day, but get together to cook dinner and discuss their progress in the evening. Chipping in for food is a lot less expensive than a writers’ colony.

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