Last week my husband, my son, and I went on a family vacation to New York City. Like any respectable writer, I packed the essentials — laptop, mouse, notebook, journal, and printouts of my recent fiction (to proofread and edit, of course). I was going to see the sights with my boys during the day and do the writer thing at night once my kiddo was asleep.
But then…I didn’t write. At all.
I carried my gear 150 miles each way without touching most of it. My laptop served as a paperweight. My journal didn’t even leave the suitcase. For six days I refrained from writing. I thought a lot about writing. I came up with ideas for blog posts and mulled over a short story idea. But no words actually landed on the page. No sentences were formed. No punctuation punctuated.
I just wasn't feeling it. I’ve been so overwhelmed lately with my work. I alternate between excitement (I’m finally a writer!) and abject terror (What if I’m a failure?). I feel immense pressure to publish something every day, and to then promote it on social media every day, and to keep the momentum going because if I stop than people will forget about me and my work and I’ll never be successful and it all rides on publishing perfect work all the time!
But, once I took a couple days off, I realized I was OK with not writing, just for a bit. I enjoyed being with my family during the day, and binge-watching Orange is the New Black with my husband at night. I read for 30 minutes before bed instead of staring at a screen, and I slept soundly for the first time in a long while.
It was, dare I say, healthy.
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” — Maya Angelou
I love to write, but I’m worried that in my efforts to be successful (that is, make a living off my work) I’m losing sight of why I wanted to do this in the first place. Writing has become more of a chore than a passion. This nagging thought that I must do it daily and it must be exactly right stresses me out. It interrupts my sleep. It exhausts my brain.
It was nice to have a week off. It was nice to enjoy moments without constantly thinking, “this would make a great blog post.” It felt good to let go for a bit and recharge.
And you know what? The world didn’t end. My career isn’t over. I still received comments on older posts and claps for previously published work.
And now, I’m back. I’m writing. It feels good.
There just might be something to this whole vacation thing after all.