I went on vacation last week: a luscious trip camping in Northern California, falling asleep under the stars, hiking during the day, and eating the most gourmet camping food you can possibly imagine.
It was a rich, beautiful, full experience. I did not write a word.
I had harboured great hopes of writing during my break – on the plane, in the early mornings, by the light of my headlamp… I did none of these things.
I suppose I ought to feel shame or disappointment, but instead I’m feeling an intense sense of relief and freedom. I still thought on and off about my project. I ended up reading some books for research. I still feel connected to my novel, and ready to get back to work.
And that was the key revelation for me this week. That one little word. Work. I have been treating my writing like it is part of my work: this is not my hobby, not something I indulge in. It’s something I work on, am dedicated to. It’s also something I sometimes need to take a vacation from.
This mindset feels liberating in all kinds of ways. Of course I’ll come back to my novel: it’s my job to write this novel. There’s no way I’ll just abandon it – I would never walk out on my work.
It’s an entirely psychological shift, of course. I’m not paid to write this book, there is no manager pushing me to meet this deadline I have set myself. It’s all about my attitude. Over the last two months or so I started treating my writing with a new seriousness – a new depth. And in return it has settled into a deeper part of my life. The unquestioned part. The required part. The this just has to get done part.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to get back to work.