I’m just back from my vacation, spent in Italy (I’ll give you a moment to be jealous), but I’ve still got vacation on the brain. I’m very much back at work, busier than ever–Jim wasn’t kidding about that publishing summer–it’s not that my brain is still on vacation. Rather, I was realizing just how much I needed that vacation, and how recharged and refreshed I feel coming back. I’ve been pestering (nicely!) editors left and right, and I’ve been having a bunch of creative calls with authors, and I feel like I’m really firing on all cylinders.

In setting up a time to talk about his manuscript, an author mentioned that the time it took for me to read and formulate my thoughts was time he needed off. And while authors are often eager to hear what their editors think about their latest draft, I know that many of them relish the time off while they wait.In our constantly-connected world, and in a business where work and personal time tend to run together, I think all of us could benefit from some real vacation time. For agents and editors, that means time spent not answering calls and emails or editing manuscripts or copy, and for authors that means not just stepping away from a manuscript (something everyone needs to do sometimes!), but also from Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads and Amazon and blogging and worrying and comparing and kvetching. Taking a break from both the craft and the business helps us gain perspective, which we often sorely lack. That perspective can lead to new insights on a plot, character or scene, and it can also lead to new personal insight. And if nothing else, a break often leaves one excited to return to the work, more energized than before.

Do you employ breaks, big or small? Or do you feel yourself suffering from the 24/7, always on culture? How do you find time to get away?

6 Responses to Vacations

  1. I agree, down time is essential but I think it’s hard to give ourselves permission to take a break. I only really learned the value in my writing life when I started using critique partners. I got some feedback that at the time made my head spin. Not because the person disliked the piece overall or because I disagreed. I knew they were RIGHT and that the changes were gonna be major. Opened up on the table, scalpel kind of major. So I spent the whole week not looking at it and watched the Harry Potter movies, one after another. I found I couldn’t even read a book. But watching good storytelling on TV was kind of a balm for my soul. When writing hurts, I find I have to treat myself or be a kid. That’s when I fell in love with books in the first place. Little wonder that I write YA. Great post!

    Little wonder that I write YA. Great post:)

    Little wonder I write YA. Great post:)

  2. Uh. Sorry for the repetition. Lousy iPhone fingers.

  3. Stephanie P. says:

    Breaks definitely help me! Sometimes they are small, sometimes they run a couple of months. But during those months I’m still writing in my head, crafting out the book, understanding characters, and returning when I’m about to burst. Then there are times when it just pours out. So I flow with it!

  4. Ty Shiver says:

    I agree. Breaks are really good — but so hard to take! I am hoping for a break soon, but with family, life and every other moment writing, it can be hard. Great post, Michael! I needed to hear it!

  5. Joelle says:

    I think before selling my first book, it was impossible to take time off because I never thought it would happen if I didn’t stay after it. I look back at that as a mistake, but nothing to really regret since I can’t change it. I actually learned to take weekends off from YOU! The way I see it is you’ve got way more to do than I do and you tend to disappear from email/twitter on the weekends, so yannow, why couldn’t I? Now, if I have to work on a weekend, I’m all moany! Haha!

    I ummm…tend to take breaks any time I can think of an excuse. Especially when I’ve handed off a manuscript or idea to you or to my critique group. I work best in the dark, cool months, so I’d planned to take most of the summer very easy, but guess what? It’s been raining and cold for pretty much the entire summer here, so I’ve actually been working. I hope August is nice because I plan to take four weeks off from the WIP to let it sit (assuming I finish it by then) and do a lot of playing and brainstorming.

  6. Bryan Bliss says:

    I need the time off. I get so into the book, it requires stepping away for me to have any perspective. So, I feel you on this.

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