By the time you read this, I’ll probably be…mm, depending on the time difference, hung over somewhere in Australia. Or maybe sleeping. Or trying to figure out Australian Rules Football. Or…kangaroo boxing? Whatever. I’m not here, by which I mean wherever you imagine me writing all this dubious advice.* I am on “vacation”.
Yes, sarcastic quotes. Because, while I’m not at my desk/in my lair, I am still writing.
I don’t like to take breaks from a novel while it’s in a particular stage: drafting, rewriting, editing. I’ve had to, but I don’t like it. I get disconnected from the heartline of the story and it always takes a while to get back to it.
But I’m not going to spend my whole “vacation” plonked in front of a computer, either. I need to stay connected to the story, not fucking hog-tied to it. Here are my compromises:
1) The Notebook. I always carry one as a matter of course, but while on vacation I started a new one and loaded it up with questions that need to be answered about the story: what happened to that guy’s parents? Why does she love her so much? What’s the deal with that thing’s face? All stuff that needs to be answered, all stuff that might get pushed aside in favour of actual writing on a normal day. Besides, long plane rides are excellent places to have a good long think.
2) The iPad. Technically on loan from my husband, I’ll be using this as my primary computing device. That’s what I’ve (hopefully) been using to moderate comments and respond to the more urgent emails while I’m away. I won’t be doing any hardcore writing on it while I’m travelling between bars, but I will dump most of my daily notes on the above questions into my files and take a look to see what else needs to be answered. I’ll also back everything up because notebooks get fucking lost, yo. And, if the urge hits me at five in the morning, I can always crank out a thousand words to scratch the itch.
3) The Sketch-A-Ma-Bob. Technically, all drawing is done in my notebook as well (another reason why I prefer blank paper). These are mostly characters. Drawing them helps me visualize them completely. Also, it’s fun and yet another activity that can be done sitting on a plane or in an airport with no internet connection. Other possibilities include maps, settings, tattoos, sigils, and graffiti found in the public toilets of my imaginary world.
So, if you’re jarred out of your regular schedule in the middle of a story, how do you stay connected to it?
*I’m not going to say it’s a volcano-based lair surrounded by my loyal robot centipedes, but I’m not going to say it’s not, either.