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About That ‘Writing Vacation’

In Puerto de Mogan on Gran Canaria. Image – iStockphoto: Mustang

The Elusive Chapters of Summer

Part confession and part inquiry, today’s little provocation for you is about a long-running fantasy I’ve nourished since my late teens: the idea of a summer vacation on which you make big progress on your work-in-progress.

Being born into a family of tireless workers, I was quite young when I seized on the phrase “working vacation.”

I tweaked it with the concept of getting off to some picturesque spot in the world where I’d spend a week churning out about a chapter an hour while fabled breezes ruffled my hair and cooled my busy brow. A writing vacation.

Sometimes I’d try one of those “writing retreats” in a stately home next to some really good vineyards. You can imagine how well that worked out. Inevitably, the retreat trips were the worst, even if not near the grapes, because they’re always run by strangely punitive “instructors” whose work no one has ever read and who over-schedule everything  to within an inch of your sanity.

No, going it alone always proved the best idea. And surely, I reasoned, I’d return, triumphant, a full manuscript in hand, ready for light edits and then quick distribution to adoring agents. So I tried this writing vacation thing

The part I got right was about the hair ruffling, My hair was really very well ruffled by some of the most fabled breezes in the world–off the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Ionian, the Aegean, and a couple of disturbingly deep lakes.

But the writing?

At Loutro on the southern coast of Crete, near Agios Pavlos. Image – iStockphoto: Vladimirs Gorelovs

Homer Had Zero Frequent Flyer Miles

I’m sorry to report to you that I’ve never gotten any decent writing done on one of these escapes.

I know several reasons these writing vacations don’t work, some of them obvious, most of them the stuff you go into denial about while you book the tickets to the next one.

Etc. and etc. and etc.

And yet, I’m always bothered by stories of greatly admired people who seem to have been able to actually write on the road. I’m determined to figure this out.

So what do you think?

Have you been on a “writing vacation” that worked? If so, tell us your secret. If  you’ve tried it and it didn’t work for you, either, what do you think made it go wrong? Maybe there’s a reason that Vikings didn’t really go on river cruises, right?

In Valletta on Malta. Note the Venetian influence on the windows. Image – iStockphoto: Kavalenkava Volha

About Porter Anderson [1]

@Porter_Anderson [2] is a recipient of London Book Fair's International Excellence Award for Trade Press Journalist of the Year. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives [3], the international news medium of Frankfurt Book Fair New York. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. Priors: The Bookseller's The FutureBook [4] in London, CNN, CNN.com and CNN International–as well as the Village Voice, Dallas Times Herald, and the United Nations' WFP in Rome. PorterAndersonMedia.com [5]