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How to Go On Vacation & Write While You’re Not Writing


Confession: I’ve been on vacation and am writing this post in a last-minute frenzy because many of my to-do’s got away from me.

When I initially packed my bags, two weeks ago, I very ambitiously packed notebooks, pens, a book and my laptop, thinking that I’d get super inspired and make fabulous progress on my new story.

Did that happen? In an actual, feasible way that can be quantified by word count?

Of course not. But, I did manage to:

  1. Book an emergency Airbnb home (long story) that told me so much about the people who lived there that I decided that my characters once lived in a home just like it.
  2. Take pictures and retrain my eye to process the world not just through words but colors, lines, and images.
  3. Sleep in a lot, and dream a lot. In one dream, I began writing a poem and woke in a panic, looking for that notebook I’d packed. When I couldn’t find it I typed up the poem in the Notes app on my phone, in the dark while the screen glared at my eyes.
  4. Talk to family members and reminisce. Aside from exploring all the different ways that we each remember the same story, I spoke to my grandparents in hopes of learning more of my family history. I made an effort to listen more than I spoke.
  5. Go to a bookstore or two. (Like I needed an excuse?) I even found a book that will aid my research tremendously, simply by browsing the store’s shelves.
  6. Reconnect with the setting of my WIP. Though I didn’t take notes as voraciously as I thought I would, I created new memories in my hometown. I reminded myself that sometimes living in a place and in a moment is so much more necessary than writing down every last detail.

Are you planning some time off this summer? What are some ways you think you’ll write without really writing?


About Natalia Sylvester [2]

Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester [3] came to the U.S. at age four. A former magazine editor, Natalia now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas and is a faculty member of the low-res MFA program at Regis University. Her articles have appeared in Latina Magazine, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and NBCLatino.com. She is the author of Chasing the Sun, named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad and chosen as a Book of the Month by the National Latino Book Club. Her second novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, is forthcoming from Little A in 2018.