Vacation: Embracing the Pause That Refreshes

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

Summer brings trips to the beach, family get-togethers, fun in the sun . . . and guilt for writers who don’t write the way they “should.”

How many recent blog posts have you read that begin with a version of “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while,” or “I’m struggling with writer’s block on my WIP”? It happens to everyone at some point, but the summer sun seems to put a spotlight on those guilty feelings. (My apologies to my friends in the southern hemisphere for being either six months too early or six months too late with this post!)

I’ve read some excellent posts recently about accepting and overcoming the guilt we’ve all felt at one time or another. Here are a few excerpts from my favorite blogs:

Dave Pagan (According to Dave): “I’ve struggled with [guilt] for so long I’ve very nearly giving up writing altogether. And it’s been relentless, beating me down until I barely have the motivation to lift my fingers to the keyboard.”

Victoria Grefer (Creative Writing with the Crimson League): “Writer’s guilt is knowing you write well, but feeling that you’re selfish, idealistic, and irresponsible for writing when you could be doing something more profitable and practical with your time.”

Cat Lumb (The Struggle to Be a Writer That Writes): “I think my lethargy has come from focusing too much on one goal; to finish my novel. I haven’t written any other form of fiction in a long while.”

Alex Kennedy (Fiction Writing for Teens and Adults): “I guess all I am saying is “Am I wasting my time doing this?” Should I be keeping my work for my dream job as a creative writer or the hope for a literary agent to scope me out and sell my work to a TV network? Is that what I want? Probably… But as a human, I don’t really know what I want.”

Kimberly Harding ( “There is a part of me that wants to dig into this hesitancy. I want to question- am I tired? do I feel too off-center to create? Am I bored? What is going on?And my inner artist, ever the observer, simply says, “You think too much. I just want to take a break.”

Wise words all. But I think I know the perfect antidote to writer’s block:

A Summer Mini-Vacation

I know the perfect antidote to writer’s block: a Summer Mini-Vacation. #writersblock #writers #authors Click To Tweet

I don’t mean the two weeks you spend with your in-laws while you stress about all the work that will be awaiting your return to your day job as well as the word count you can almost see flying out the window.

Nope. I mean a honest-to-goodness getaway.

I speak from experience because my sweetie surprised me for my birthday and whisked me away for a four-day mini-vacation to Bimini, The Bahamas.

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

As people who are younger than I am like to say, “SQUEEEEE!!!”

I even took my laptop with me so I could stay connected through social media, post photos for my family and friends, and get a little work done on my “down time.” But a terrible thing happened: the resort’s wifi was slow when it worked, which wasn’t very often.

I was unplugged. And it was WONDERFUL.

We had an incredible few days of swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, eating, sleeping, relaxing . . . vacationing! Four days of basically no work.

Did I feel guilty?

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

I did the first day. Not by the fourth, though. 🙂

And when I returned, I was amazed at how invigorated I was to get to work, how the words just seemed to flow, and how energized I felt.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who needed a vacation. Brooke Warner of Warner Coaching wrote on her Facebook page, “Okay, back from vacation. Wow, how amazing to totally unplug. Note to self: do that more often!!”

Sara Weston (How to Be Happy Now) wrote, “The mind is so much more quiet and unconcerned with the goings-on of the world when released from the tyranny of the Internet :–).”

And your vacation doesn’t even have to be “away” as long as you are. Polysyllabic Profundities wrote, “I am in a very zen state right now.  I’ve just come back from having a Hot Stone Massage and the tension that used to ride shotgun on my shoulders has dissipated to nothingness. . . . I have a writing deadline looming, but I cannot conjure the idioms that are required to complete the task.  And the most glorious thing is – at this precise moment I don’t care.”

So my words of advice to all you writer’s-block-suffering bloggers reading this post is to get away from the “shoulds” of writing, even if only for just a few days or even a few hours. You’ll be amazed how rejuvenating a little break can be!

vacation writer's block
© 2013 Candace Johnson

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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

3 Ideas for Better Writing

From Candace: Here is some great advice about writing from fellow blogger Oliver at Literature and Libation. I hope you’ll check out some of his other posts–you’ll be glad you did!

The Fear of Making a Mistake

Fear of Making a Mistake
Writer’s Block 1 (Photo credit: OkayCityNate)

“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”

Writer, actor, and tall person John Cleese is my inspiration for today’s blog. (And thanks to Jon Winokur at Advice to for the tweets that got me to thinking about this.)

When I began this blog, I set a goal for myself to blog twice a week about something that is relevant to writers. That sounded easy . . . except “blogging day” keeps coming around. (“Didn’t I just post a blog yesterday?”)

How difficult can it be to write something that is interesting and helpful for writers and then polish it up every Wednesday and Sunday?

“Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.” #amwriting #writetip #writersblock Click To Tweet

How difficult? That depends on the week, as every blogger who reads this post can attest. My hat is off to those bloggers I follow who manage two, three, or even four posts a week—you are a true inspiration! But as John Cleese said, the fear of making a mistake can keep even the most prolific writer from actually putting words on paper.

My personal crucible is the desire to write something that is practical, informative, interesting, and so good that everyone who reads it wants to follow my blog and share the post. Because I’m hoping to appeal to writers who might someday need editing services, I feel the need to be extremely careful—to not make mistakes—and that really can stifle the creative process.

So my advice today to every writer who reads this, and most especially to myself, is

 Just Do It

If you’re one of the thousands of writers participating in NaNoWriMo this month, and you find yourself spending too much time coming up with the perfect word or a character name that feels right, make a pledge to yourself: no matter how much editing you might need to do later, get the words out now, because you can always come back and polish. Don’t wait for the right time or the right mood; if you have something to say, write it down—just do it!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes had this to say:

“If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads. A page a day is a book a year.”

So yay for me—this is ready to post tomorrow, and it’s only Saturday night! Heck, I’m going to go completely crazy and post it early. Not that anyone else will notice, but I’m just happy to be writing. What about you?

Happy Writing!



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