On Vacation

My 12yo son on the beach.

My 12yo son on the beach.

For the first two weeks of July, our family took a much-needed vacation to the West Coast. We spent a few days in San Francisco and then rented a beach house in Oregon, where were joined by my brother and his family. The vacation was a balance of busy sightseeing days, lazy beach mornings, and evenings filled with wonderful food and lively conversation. But there was no Internet.

The lack of Internet wasn’t by choice, but the WiFi in our SF hotel cost $15/day and the router at the beach house didn’t work on our laptops. But it barely impacted our vacation. Since I could check our family’s email account from my phone, I made sure we didn’t miss any urgent messages. My daughter used her phone to send texts and photos to her best friend. Occasionally we sought out a Starbucks to make a longer connection. But that’s it.

Here’s the thing. I missed the Internet less than I thought I would. Though I love keeping up with writer friends on Twitter, reading their blogs, and following my favorite Tumblr accounts, sometimes the barrage of information and advice makes me crazy. After I’ve read one too many articles on how to improve my query/first page/plot/voice, my head starts to spin. I second-guess everything I’ve written so far. Articles on trends turn me a ball of anxiety, as do dire predictions about the publication industry. And though I love reading people’s good news (agent signings, book deals, and so on), sometimes I feel like a capital-L Loser with no news of my own to share!

Relaxing with my brother on the deck of our rental house.

Relaxing with my brother on the deck of our rental house.

I also realized that my writing could flourish just fine without the Internet. While sitting on the beach house deck, I brainstormed story ideas with my younger brother. During a 10-hour drive from the Oregon Coast to the San Francisco Airport, I talked through plot holes in my WIP with my husband. And I took advantage of a cloudy beach day to write 15 pages, while watching the stormy gray waves through the picture window.

Most of the time, I enjoyed my vacation: the sightseeing, the beach walks, the great meals, and the company. Best of all, by the time I came home, I was fired up and ready to dive into an intense writing schedule. And yes, I’ve immersed myself back into Internet again. But I definitely recommend taking a break like this once in a while.

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5 Responses to On Vacation

  1. Sometimes I wonder how writers wrote pre-internet and pre-computer. The act of writing was so much more laborious, manual typewriters are HARD to use, and quill pens, omigod. And while I love solitude, there are times connecting with other writers is exactly what I need, whether it’s a beta/CP or just a “misery loves company” rant session about the industry. I’m glad you enjoyed your vacation, it sounds wonderful!

  2. I also went on vacation without Social Media recently––because I was in China––and it did wonders for my energy and creativity. Sometimes it truly is necessary to unplug.

  3. Oh gosh, good on you! I think stepping back from the distractions of the internet could certainly do me good sometimes! It’s so evil, and sucking in-ish, and distracting, and…just, everything!
    Really happy you found taking some time out helped you put some time in 🙂

  4. CJ Burright says:

    It just amazes me how much time I can waste on the internet. Some days I have to force myself not to read emails, go on FB, yadayadayada so I’ll actually get some writing done. Glad you had a great vacation! I’m from Oregon–what coastal town did you visit?

    • casacullen says:

      We stayed in a beach house between Yachats and Waldport. We’ve stayed in Lincoln City before, but we wanted to be further south. The beach was amazing – just a few steps from our deck!

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