• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

About That ‘Writing Vacation’

https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/500-iStoc... 300w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" data-recalc-dims="1" />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

  • First on Santorini.
  • Then Gran Canaria.
  • Then Québec (not an island, big mistake).
  • Then Arizona (no ocean, another big mistake).
  • Then St. Barts.
  • Then Malta.
  • Then Crete.
  • Then Taormina.
  • Then Skiathos.
  • Then Corfu.
  • Then other places.

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?
https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/500-iStoc... 300w, https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/500-iStoc... 525w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" data-recalc-dims="1" />At Loutro on the southern coast of Crete, near Agios Pavlos. Image – iStockphoto: Vladimirs Gorelovs
Homer Had Zero Frequent Flyer Miles
https://i0.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Porter-Pr... 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" data-recalc-dims="1" />Provocations graphic by Liam Walsh
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.

  • Once you get to a vacation, you’re usually tired and need to rest. So maybe you’re too tired to do anything good creatively, right?
  • The going-to and coming-from those places can be more taxing than you expect. After all, other countries have no TSA Precheck and no Global Entry. Plus luggage. Plus buses, trains, shuttles, taxis, rental cars, villa caretakers (they look like the retreat “instructors”), and hotel hassles. Those all eat up energy you’d thought would go into the work.
  • The being-in these exotic places can take its own toll, too. Maybe you’re dealing with another language and bad maps. Or maybe (as on Gran Canaria) the mountainous seaside roads are so scary that just surviving getting to dinner and back without driving the rental right over the cliff requires a day of recovery.
  • Fabled breezes are fabled in part because they’re blowing over places (not just your hair) with a lot of history you want to explore. Very distracting.
  • And hey, when are you going to be on ______ Island again? It would be a shame not to see some of the place, right?

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?
https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/500-iStoc... 300w, https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/500-iStoc... 724w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" data-recalc-dims="1" />In Valletta on Malta. Note the Venetian influence on the windows. Image – iStockphoto: Kavalenkava Volha

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About Porter Anderson@Porter_Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, the international news medium of Frankfurt Book Fair New York. He and Jane Friedman co-own and produce @The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors. Anderson previously was The Bookseller's Associate Editor for The FutureBook in London. Formerly with CNN, CNN.com and CNN International–as well as the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media–he has also been a featured writer with Thought Catalog in New York, creating as a longtime arts critic the #MusicForWriters series. More on his consultancy: PorterAndersonMedia.com | Google+Web | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+ | More Posts

"I wrote the rest of The Innocents Abroad in sixty days and I could have added a fortnight's labor with the pen and gotten along without the letters altogether. I was very young in those days, exceedingly young, marvelously young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years. I worked every night from eleven or twelve until broad daylight in the morning, and as I did 200,000 words in the sixty days, the average was more than 3,000 words a day- nothing for Sir Walter Scott, nothing for Louis Stevenson, nothing for plenty of other people, but quite handsome for me. In 1897, when we were living in Tedworth Square, London, and I was writing the book called Following the Equator, my average was 1,800 words a day; here in Florence (1904) my average seems to be 1,400 words per sitting of four or five hours."
Mark Twain

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