Everyone needs pockets of downtime to recharge, whether it’s an hour or a week-long vacation (3-4 if you are a joyful European! Lol). But for us creative types, I challenge the idea of binging on mindless relaxation. For me, a break from the norm can be restorative and productive in equal measure.
My family and I just got back from the beach. It was amazing. We swam, drank margaritas, watched movies, and I actually read not one but TWO novels while spending quality down time with my daughter and my hubby. But I also woke up at the same time I do at home– 6AM– and took my morning walk. I’d watch the sun come up, then dip into the ocean for a swim. When I’d arrive at our cottage at 9AM to make coffee and start writing, everybody else was still asleep.
This little bit of structure and a whole lot of nature and sunshine in a different, beautiful location gave me renewed energy, new intuition and new creative juice. When I’m happy, things move faster. When I feel stuck and tired, simply resting doesn’t always help. But a change of scenery always does. Sometimes it’s just a quick walk. But a vacation is an opportunity for a grand reset… and I’ve often gotten some of my best work done while I’m away! For me, taking a complete break does more harm than good. The longer I go without writing, the harder it is to start again. Creativity has a momentum, and once I get sideways of that momentum… well, you know where THAT leads!
What many of the most successful writers whose names we all know have in common is that they write every single day. That doesn’t mean they work on the same project or do the same type of writing, but they use that muscle. They keep it engaged. They may work on something that has grand plans, or no plans at all. And when they’ve topped out on one “exercise,” they change it up, but they don’t quit.
I want to be like them… and daily practice is one habit I can imitate to help take me there.
Discipline is part of it, but the other part is I love my job. It never feels like work to me! I feel so privileged to be a writer, to do what I’m meant to do. I live for this sh*t. When something clicks, a character talks to me in the car, a dream gets my gears going, I can’t wait to honor it at my laptop. Even when the story path has potholes and roadblocks, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A vacation without writing would be like a punishment!
I share this not out of some self-righteousness about “not being a quitter.” Rather, I hope I’m showing up for what I say I want. I hope I’m meeting the universe halfway. I hope by choosing to invest in my creative life, even on vacation, I’m saying to my stories: “I’m here and paying attention to how you want to take shape. I want to hear what you have to say. I’m ready, willing and able to be the conduit.” Elizabeth Gilbert goes into this more in a really helpful way in her book Big Magic about living a creative life.
Manifestation teacher Abraham Hicks, tells a great story about this. At a workshop, a baffled gentleman asked why he wasn’t successful. He had prayed. He had meditated. He had said his affirmations. But he wasn’t seeing any financial results. Meanwhile, rappers like 50 Cent were making bank. This guy was sure rappers weren’t meditating and affirming every day, so why were they seeing success while he wasn’t?
Abraham shared that every time a rapper spits a rhyme, it’s a prayer. Every verse, every line is a meditation on making one’s dreams come true. It’s a recommitting to the work that inspires them. Doing the work, using that muscle, ritualizing your creativity, is what aligns you with the essence of what you are meant to do in this world, and produces more of it.
Law of Attraction, baby. It doesn’t care that you’re on vacation, it cares that you’re paying attention.
So when it was time to leave the beach, I wanted more but I also felt like I actually got what I needed. A balance of doneness and nothingness. Both felt like a meditation. More, please!
What do you love so much that you would do it when you’re stressed? On vacation? What work have you made a ritual? Keep doing it.