We all came down from the mountain safe and sound, although I reached the unhappy revelation that I am now the weakest link in the Salerni ski team. I don’t have as much stamina as the others. My knees ache after a couple hours on the slopes. And I have no interest in throwing myself down headwalls like the rest of the family.
So every day, I trudged back to the hotel early while the family went on without me. I iced my knees. (boo) I had a glass of wine. (yay) And I tried to force that brainstorming I said I was going to do. (double boo)
It wasn’t happening. I had no inspiration. If anything, I was more confused than ever. And that depressed me just as much as not being able to keep up with the skiing maniacs in my family.
The fact is, I wasn’t giving myself much of a vacation. I was mad about being out of shape and off the slopes, and I was mad that my ideas didn’t flow forth like … um, wine.
Finally, I thought back to my trip to Mexico last summer. And the one to Hollywood/Catalina Island the year prior. And the one to Disney World the year before that. And I remembered that, although I dragged my laptop along on all those trips, I didn’t get a bit of writing done. I tried. Sometimes I forced it, but that was always a mistake.
After I got home from Disney World, I finished writing THE CAGED GRAVES. And when I got home from California, I finished VOLTAGE. And after Mexico, I sent THE EIGHTH DAY off to my agent. So, I realized – Stop chasing it. You’re on vacation, and you’re supposed to be having fun. Writing is fun, but not on vacation. Stop it.
I let go of my project. I got a massage at the hotel. I may have had some martinis at the hotel bar. I beta read a friend’s manuscript. I got back out on the slopes with the fam every day.
And when I got home, I sat down and wrote the EIGHTH DAY series plan that wouldn’t come to me in Vermont – in just a few days.
Lesson learned? No matter how much I love writing, I need time away from it as much as I need time away from teaching.
And the best way to catch a breakthrough in your project … is to stop chasing it.