Do writers need holidays? - Jo Carroll

It's August. The schools are out. Children and young people mill about our streets eating ice creams. Families, if they can afford it, are heading off on holiday.

And those of us in teaching or factories or offices or libraries - anywhere with a boss and a contract - have the statutory right to take leave. Employment law enshrines a belief that we are entitled to time away from work to recharge our batteries.

I am aware that the situation is different in America, where most employees have very little paid leave - but here, in Europe, we see time away from work as reparative and not evidence of slacking. And families need time together, just to have fun, to remind themselves how much they love each other when they don't bicker every morning just getting out of the house.

And writers? Do we need restorative time? Days, weeks, away from the blank page and from social media, just to reconnect with who we are and what we really want from life? To breathe fresh air and remind our bodies that there is life away from the computer? To drag our minds away from those fictional characters that can preoccupy us and allow those around us the space they need in our thinking?

Or is such an interruption intrusive? As we settle down to build a sandcastle or pay for yet another go on the roundabouts, do we feel a twinge of resentment at these real people who need us so much and drag us away from our writing lives?

I don't think there's an obvious answer - I suspect each of us negotiates holidays in our own way. Some will hate every second away from the writing, while others relish free time to allow thoughts and feelings to wander without the compulsion to write everything down.

And me - where do I stand on this? 

Well, as a travel writer, I think I have the best of both worlds. I have a wonderful reason to visit exotic places, and then to write about them. But not everyone is so lucky - what do you think?

(If you want to see what I get up to on my travels, please visit my website: ) 


I never really want to stop writing - but as of this moment, I can recognise exhaustion and the need for a holiday (which, sadly, I don't think I'm going to get or not till next spring.) About a month ago, I realised that I need to try to organise my writing life so that I'm doing those intensive first drafts and first draft revisions through winter rather than summer. I have been at my desk for almost the whole of summer and I feel as though it has more or less passed me by. But it's been such a wretched summer up here that I suppose it doesn't make much difference. Going to make a determined effort to change things for the future!
Susan Price said…
But will those intensive first drafts and rewrites cooperate with a timetable?
Mari Biella said…
In theory, I hate the idea of being away from my PC for any significant length of time - and yet, this summer, I've actually spent quite a bit of time away, and I have to say I enjoyed it. It was nice to get away from the usual grind and spend time thinking about things other than writing, blogging and tweeting. When you're doing something you love, you don't really think about the possibility of burnout, but you can still be affected by it, and I think that to an extent I was. Now, I feel refreshed and ready to go. I am expecting this feeling to last for all of about 2 weeks...
JO said…
A mixed response ... which seems about how it is! Maybe as many opinions on this as there are writers?
Lydia Bennet said…
yes I'm kind of in between, I've often done some writing or other work on holiday or while travelling, on the other hand I'm pretty good at procrastinating and holidays are a very good way of doing that!

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