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Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 11:53 AM
In a different thread, some of us were discussing Amtrak's offering residencies for writers. It turns out writers have to sign a contract and some of the wording of that contract gives Amtrak rights to the writer's work. As much of a scam as that is, it's NOT the point of this thread.

It got me thinking. I desperately need a vacation. I haven't been anywhere in almost 15 years! Funds are especially tight, too. So, I thought I'd see if I could find any day (or overnight) trips that would give me time to write.

The idea of writing on a train trip sounds like heaven to me. I checked Amtrak's website to see if there were any affordable trips I could take. Nothing. Most every train leaves my area around midnight so I wouldn't get any writing done. I did, however, check Greyhound. For $100 ($120 if I splurge a little!) I can get an eight hour ride to Chicago, stay overnight in what was rated a 4 out of 5 star hotel and leave the next day for another eight hour ride back. $18 bus ticket, $51 hotel. Add taxes and one meal out and I'm looking at $100 for a two day writing adventure (planned one month in advance).

I'm seriously considering this. Has anyone else ever done this or considered it?

And, as long as we're on the topic of writing vacations, if you have any other ideas, let's hear them! You never know, your idea might resonate with someone. What's your dream writer's vacation? Is it a specific conference or writer's retreat? I'd love to hear about it.

Personally, my dream writing vacation is to go on a cruise. Beauty, time, writing, and ports of call are the only things on the agenda. Add to that having your food prepared for you and available 24/7 and it's perfect! A nice seven day Canadian/Alaskan cruise would be great. A four to six month around the world cruise, however, would get me to marry someone!

How about you?

Osulagh
05-21-2014, 12:07 PM
I think you'd spend more time travelling, settling in, preparing food/drinks and stuff than actually writing. IMHO, just sounds like advanced procrastination.

I can see going on a retreat with a group of other writers for a week writing, critiquing, talking about writing, and so on. Not necessarily to put words on the page, but to usher in a creative environment.
Or, if there was some place you could go easily and stay for a long period without being bothered. Camping, a family/friend's vacation home in the area, renting a cheap hotel room in the area for cheap.

Putputt
05-21-2014, 01:12 PM
I know someone who stayed for three nights in a nice-ish little B&B (I don't know where, but she said it's in the middle of nowhere, which made it affordable) and finished a book there and then. Insanitayyyy!

I've never been on a writing vacation, but when I feel the need to go somewhere else to write, I just go to a nearby cafe. :) Different strokes and all. If you do decide to go on your trip, let us know how it goes!

Helix
05-21-2014, 01:29 PM
The problem with long bus journeys is other people. What if you end up sitting next to a talkative person?

I've been on short writing vacations -- weekends in farmhouses, cottages on the coast --- but on each I've spent most of the time exploring the sights. And eating. Lots of eating. There might have been drinking too. I don't remember.

Now I just do the cafe thing or sit at a picnic table with my notebook open, tapping a pen against my teeth and glaring at tourists.

jeffo
05-21-2014, 03:32 PM
I'm sure it's different for everyone, and every writer. For me, I don't think I could do the bus trip because there wouldn't be room to move around and the bus' movement would make it hard to write. I think I'd get frustrated at potholes, swerving, and the like. With a train, you can get up and walk around when you need to, and the gentle sway of the trains doesn't disturb my typing fingers.

I did have that recent weekend where I went to an old inn in the mountains (off season, so it was cheaper). I actually made up a schedule for myself before I went and got quite a bit of writing done, simply because there were very few outside distractions (until I found the pub down the street at lunchtime...)

holy_shiitake
05-21-2014, 07:43 PM
I'm actually taking a little three-day sabbatical in June to go up to Boston, stay at a friend's house and spend most of the days writing in little coffee shops in the North End (or just at my friend's apartment, which has gorgeous huge windows and is ridiculously comfortable). Can't wait. I also have some other friends there that I haven't seen in a long time, so meetups are being planned with them. But still, writing is definitely the goal.

Maryn
05-21-2014, 07:52 PM
Both bus and train can have talkative people on them, even if they're not talking to you. Everybody's got a phone and they use them.

If I needed time away from home to write, and if that was my goal, I'd probably seek an isolated cottage or cabin, fully furnished, to which I could drive alone, bringing with me everything I'd need for the duration of my stay. I would keep a schedule of writing but allow time for enjoying my surroundings, too.

Just after the vacation season but before it gets cold, there are bargains to be had at vacation destinations all over the US. I'd probably try the Adirondacks for myself, since it's not a crazy-long drive.

Maryn, who can write at home

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 08:12 PM
I think you'd spend more time travelling, settling in, preparing food/drinks and stuff than actually writing. IMHO, just sounds like advanced procrastination.

I can see going on a retreat with a group of other writers for a week writing, critiquing, talking about writing, and so on. Not necessarily to put words on the page, but to usher in a creative environment.
Or, if there was some place you could go easily and stay for a long period without being bothered. Camping, a family/friend's vacation home in the area, renting a cheap hotel room in the area for cheap.

I see what you're saying. I can see how it could be someone's way of procrastinating. (In which case, that person should just admit it and say, "I want to go to Chicago for a night!")

The point of the trip is to spend the eight hour bus ride writing. When I get to Chicago (at 4pm), I walk to the nearby hotel that I chose. I plop my one and only carry-on bag on the bed. It contains a change of clothes, simple toiletries, a notebook (or laptop for some), and some carefully chosen foods to get me there and back again; grab and eat food for the bus. No preparation.

Once in the hotel, I go out for dinner. Depending on what's around, I might walk around for an hour. Then it's back to the hotel with two or three more hours to write and getting a good night's sleep before the 8am bus back the next morning. And there's another eight hours for writing.

From the time the first bus pulls out to the time it pulls back into the station on the return trip, that's a total of 32 hours. I can log 18-20 hours of that time writing and get a change of scenery without spending a fortune.

If a procrastinator spends all their time preparing food and drinks and getting settled in, they've missed the point completely. What were they doing on the bus ride down and back? They're missing opportunities to write. To be frank, I've met writer's who procrastinate a lot. Many complain they don't have time to write or their trying to find the perfect circumstances to write in, like that week long stay somewhere secluded. It's not writing, but the romanticized dream of being a writer/author that they love. Writer's write. And they do it in the midst of the life and circumstances going on around them every day. People always make time for the things that are important to them. Always.

I would love to attend a writer's retreat sometime. I'd have to admit up front that I wouldn't get a lot of writing done because I'd be too excited being in that atmosphere with other writers that I'd want to get together and discuss everything under the sun with them!

Kylabelle
05-21-2014, 08:25 PM
Sounds like a lovely plan to me, Cowboy. If you feel the lurching of the bus wouldn't distract you (and having in the distant past taken many long distance bus trips I can say that you'd also have long periods of smoother travel) I think you ought to give it a try!

And then, report back and tell us all the details. I am fascinated, and also admiring of your commitment and determination. (Being of the procrastination persuasion, myself. :D )

Best of luck with it, however you go forward!

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 08:25 PM
I know someone who stayed for three nights in a nice-ish little B&B (I don't know where, but she said it's in the middle of nowhere, which made it affordable) and finished a book there and then. Insanitayyyy!

I've never been on a writing vacation, but when I feel the need to go somewhere else to write, I just go to a nearby cafe. :) Different strokes and all. If you do decide to go on your trip, let us know how it goes!

Exactly. Very good point. Some people might get car sick if they try to write on a bus trip. Personally, I have difficulty writing in a library. The kind of "quiet" in a library feels so artificial to me. It feels manufactured and forced. Add to that that I'm distracted by wanting to roam around looking at books.

Cafes work for me until the guilt sets in. "Have I been here too long? Is the waiter angry that I'm just taking up the table to write?"

I've decided that I'm definitely going to take the trip. It's just a matter of picking the date. I'll write about it when I get back.

Sage
05-21-2014, 08:34 PM
I know someone who stayed for three nights in a nice-ish little B&B (I don't know where, but she said it's in the middle of nowhere, which made it affordable) and finished a book there and then. Insanitayyyy

Was it me? Because I did this, except it was a little cabin and I shared it with another writing friend.

I've also taken writing vacations that were a week in a really fancy cabin all by myself, and I rented a beach house on Martha's Vineyard just before their busy season started. Neither of these were as productive as the little cabin where I did the 3-day novel.

Other than the 3-day novel, my most productive writing vacations have been going to the college town that's 45 minutes from where I live, getting a room at the inn there, and then working at my favorite cafe down the street for hours that weekend, eliminating the traveling time on those writing days, and also staying more cheaply than with a cabin or a beach house.

Yes, for each of these, there was a moderate to high amount of traveling. But if I can keep my mind on the book, traveling time can help me get excited about scenes I have yet to write, which helps me when I sit down to do it.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:00 PM
The problem with long bus journeys is other people. What if you end up sitting next to a talkative person?

I've been on short writing vacations -- weekends in farmhouses, cottages on the coast --- but on each I've spent most of the time exploring the sights. And eating. Lots of eating. There might have been drinking too. I don't remember.

Now I just do the cafe thing or sit at a picnic table with my notebook open, tapping a pen against my teeth and glaring at tourists.

Really good points to consider beforehand! I'm with you on the sightseeing part when it comes to being in picturesque places. I don't think I'd be able to go to a farmhouse out in the country and not spend a lot of my time taking walks and looking around! Depending on how you're getting there, you could determine that you'll at least spend the trip there and back again writing. You can also make a plan (not set a "goal" because people are used to not reaching goals and have gotten comfy with it) to spend a certain number of hours writing while you're there.

As for the chatty person, here's how I would handle the situation...

Ideally, I'd like no one beside me. If I do have someone there, I'd say hello and carry on with my plans. If they were a chatty person, I would take 30 minutes to chat with them. No need to be rude. Before that 30 minutes began, I would say something like,

"Nice to meet you, Phyllis. Is this a fun trip for you, I hope? (Listen to story.) That sounds like fun! (Or, I'm so sorry to hear that.) For me, this is a mini-vacation. I haven't been anywhere in years. And I'm a writer so this trip is all about spending the bus ride writing. I'm only spending the night in Chicago and then it's back on the bus first thing in the morning again. This way I get a change of scenery and some uninterrupted time to write."

All that would be left to do is answer a few perfunctory questions they might have about what I was writing and then I'd say, "Well, here I go! Have a good ride, Phyllis! See you in Chicago!"

Just set the boundaries before the chatting gets too deep. If the chatter keeps going, as some are prone to do, I have no problem putting a smile on my face and saying, "Phyllis, I'm taking this trip so I can have time to write, remember? I'm sorry but this is important to me."

It would be a kindness to say hello to Phyllis again if the bus has a 10 minute rest stop somewhere. Especially if the trip isn't for pleasure on her end.

I'm a nice person. But I'm done being "too nice." To see what I mean, look at my post called My Very Personal, Hard Fought Accomplishment! (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=290410) It's good to set boundaries and stick by them. In fact, it's necessary.

NinjaFingers
05-21-2014, 09:02 PM
I don't take vacations to write.

I take vacations to research stuff I know I want to write about. Or to research general, random stuff that will probably end up being written about.

On my last trip I got the opportunity to go up in a two seater plane. There will almost certainly be a story there once I have time to write anything other than my web serial and this GN I'm working on...

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:06 PM
I'm sure it's different for everyone, and every writer. For me, I don't think I could do the bus trip because there wouldn't be room to move around and the bus' movement would make it hard to write. I think I'd get frustrated at potholes, swerving, and the like. With a train, you can get up and walk around when you need to, and the gentle sway of the trains doesn't disturb my typing fingers.

I did have that recent weekend where I went to an old inn in the mountains (off season, so it was cheaper). I actually made up a schedule for myself before I went and got quite a bit of writing done, simply because there were very few outside distractions (until I found the pub down the street at lunchtime...)

Trains are optimal. Buses are definitely a second choice. But it's a good one if funds are tight. Potholes are a problem you take a chance on. You can't do much about that except hope for the best. I don't mind sitting still for several hours as long as I have something to occupy my mind.

The fact that you planned out your time to write is perfect. Writers have to have discipline. People set goals but are too comfortable with not reaching them so it's okay not to accomplish them. What you did was exert discipline. Bravo!

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:10 PM
I'm actually taking a little three-day sabbatical in June to go up to Boston, stay at a friend's house and spend most of the days writing in little coffee shops in the North End (or just at my friend's apartment, which has gorgeous huge windows and is ridiculously comfortable). Can't wait. I also have some other friends there that I haven't seen in a long time, so meetups are being planned with them. But still, writing is definitely the goal.

See? Perfect! Ridiculously comfortable works for me! You know you're going with a plan to write and, as long as you get written what you want to write, you'll have an even better time during your meet-ups.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:17 PM
Both bus and train can have talkative people on them, even if they're not talking to you. Everybody's got a phone and they use them.

If I needed time away from home to write, and if that was my goal, I'd probably seek an isolated cottage or cabin, fully furnished, to which I could drive alone, bringing with me everything I'd need for the duration of my stay. I would keep a schedule of writing but allow time for enjoying my surroundings, too.

Just after the vacation season but before it gets cold, there are bargains to be had at vacation destinations all over the US. I'd probably try the Adirondacks for myself, since it's not a crazy-long drive.

Maryn, who can write at home

I used to be the type to need quiet seclusion. For rewrites, definitely. But I've gotten used to the noise of every day life around me. It's only distracting if it's talking and noise that's directed to me. Otherwise it's background noise to me.

I already dealt with the Chatty Phyllis' above so I won't type that out again but I absolutely get what you're saying.

I'm glad people are sharing their ideas for writing get-aways. You never know when you might inspire someone else to take one. In my case, a much needed one! I can write at home very easily. For me, this is also about getting a change of scenery after going nowhere for 15 years.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:22 PM
Sounds like a lovely plan to me, Cowboy. If you feel the lurching of the bus wouldn't distract you (and having in the distant past taken many long distance bus trips I can say that you'd also have long periods of smoother travel) I think you ought to give it a try!

And then, report back and tell us all the details. I am fascinated, and also admiring of your commitment and determination. (Being of the procrastination persuasion, myself. :D )

Best of luck with it, however you go forward!

That's very kind of you, thanks. I have the time so it's going to be a matter of how far in advance I have to plan the trip and still get the $18 fare. If I can do it next week I will.

I'll definitely report back about when I'm going and again when I get back.

WriterBN
05-21-2014, 09:25 PM
I used to be the type to need quiet seclusion. For rewrites, definitely. But I've gotten used to the noise of every day life around me. It's only distracting if it's talking and noise that's directed to me. Otherwise it's background noise to me.


I'm the same way. I've found that I can write perfectly well in the middle of a crowded shopping mall, but can't get anything done at home surrounded by family.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:27 PM
Was it me? Because I did this, except it was a little cabin and I shared it with another writing friend.

I've also taken writing vacations that were a week in a really fancy cabin all by myself, and I rented a beach house on Martha's Vineyard just before their busy season started. Neither of these were as productive as the little cabin where I did the 3-day novel.

Other than the 3-day novel, my most productive writing vacations have been going to the college town that's 45 minutes from where I live, getting a room at the inn there, and then working at my favorite cafe down the street for hours that weekend, eliminating the traveling time on those writing days, and also staying more cheaply than with a cabin or a beach house.

Yes, for each of these, there was a moderate to high amount of traveling. But if I can keep my mind on the book, traveling time can help me get excited about scenes I have yet to write, which helps me when I sit down to do it.

Wow. I'm impressed. A three day novel? I'm interested to hear more about that. Did you write the novel in three days? Did you have it fleshed out before you started writing or was it an idea that you sat down with and it took off?

I like your thinking when it comes to getting away to write. I'm cut from the same cloth.

Chris P
05-21-2014, 09:30 PM
For free lodging, sign up for Couchsurfing.org. You can search for people in your destination willing to let you stay at their place for free. I've hosted a dozen or so people from all over the world. If you explain that you want some time by yourself to do some writing, whoever agrees to host you will probably be happy to give you some space. Depending on what type of space the host has, you might have all the privacy you want for however long they are willing to host you.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:30 PM
I don't take vacations to write.

I take vacations to research stuff I know I want to write about. Or to research general, random stuff that will probably end up being written about.

On my last trip I got the opportunity to go up in a two seater plane. There will almost certainly be a story there once I have time to write anything other than my web serial and this GN I'm working on...

I'm glad you chimed in. You've given a whole different perspective to the subject and I appreciate it.

I got to fly in a two seater plane, too. It's a feeling like nothing else, isn't it? It didn't even feel or look like we were moving!

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:36 PM
I'm the same way. I've found that I can write perfectly well in the middle of a crowded shopping mall, but can't get anything done at home surrounded by family.

You want to know one of my writing strategies when I get bored sitting at home or if I get stuck writing a scene? This might work well for you.

If I'm writing a scene in someone's home, I'll go to Ikea and sit in one of their model rooms and write it. If it's in a character's kitchen, I sit in one of Ikea's kitchens. If it's a living room, I'll sit in one of Ikea's living rooms.

If the scene takes place in an office building, I'll go downtown to an office building and write the scene. I've been to parks, residential neighborhoods, malls, the woods, the Mall of America, restaurants, riding the light rail, museums, etc.,

This habit wouldn't work for a lot of people but it never fails for me. I take city transportation so the bus/train time is also writing time. And it gives me lots of time to observe and listen - some of which actually gets used.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 09:38 PM
For free lodging, sign up for Couchsurfing.org. You can search for people in your destination willing to let you stay at their place for free. I've hosted a dozen or so people from all over the world. If you explain that you want some time by yourself to do some writing, whoever agrees to host you will probably be happy to give you some space. Depending on what type of space the host has, you might have all the privacy you want for however long they are willing to host you.

Whodathunkit? Many thanks for the suggestion. I've bookmarked it. Although part of me would feel awkward doing this. But, I have to remember that people wouldn't have signed up to host folks if they didn't want to.

Laer Carroll
05-21-2014, 09:45 PM
For me, writing on a vacation would be counter-productive. I go on a vacation to get experiences I canít get at home.

Such as standing in front of the Iguazu waterfall where your body and it seems the entire world is shaken near to pieces. Holding a woman in an embrace at a Buenos Aires tango dance whom I would never see again. Walking through a fairy-land first-day snowfall in Montreal. Seeing Buckingham Palace real right in front of me. Walking through the West Ireland village where my great-grandfather lived. All of these Iíve experienced and they left me profoundly changed.

And with plenty of inspiration to write.

Sage
05-21-2014, 09:49 PM
Wow. I'm impressed. A three day novel? I'm interested to hear more about that. Did you write the novel in three days? Did you have it fleshed out before you started writing or was it an idea that you sat down with and it took off?
My friend and I challenged ourselves to write a novel in 72 hours. A little of this included driving time (she drove, but I didn't write to make it fair). Mine was MG, so it's worth noting that it reached its full length at 42K, but my goal had been 50K (from NaNo) until I reached "The End" at 42K. I had a few hours to spare at that point, and probably would have reached 45-46K if I had more to write.

The novel had been on the backburner for the better part of the year. It was a quest novel with 12 plot coupons, and I knew what most of those plot coupons probably would be, although I didn't know all of them or what order my MCs would find them. However, the plot-coupon format is excellent for quick writing because, when you get stuck, you just send your character after a new coupon.

It also was a novel that I wrote purely for my own enjoyment. For a year before that, I had felt like writing was a chore, with every word like pulling teeth, and I decided to write something I knew I would never be able to sell (because it was a Christmas novel, not because I wrote it in 3 days). While I adore this novel, and hope that someday there's a way to sell it, my short attempt to query verified that nobody wanted to look at a Christmas novel (rejections specifically said so).

Having it in that cabin was very helpful because it took me away from the distractions at home. With a like-minded friend also trying to reach the goal, I capitalized on my competitive nature, but it also gave us both excuses to take breaks and just chat for a couple minutes and recharge before we felt the pressure to start writing again.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 10:13 PM
For me, writing on a vacation would be counter-productive. I go on a vacation to get experiences I canít get at home.

Such as standing in front of the Iguazu waterfall where your body and it seems the entire world is shaken near to pieces. Holding a woman in an embrace at a Buenos Aires tango dance whom I would never see again. Walking through a fairy-land first-day snowfall in Montreal. Seeing Buckingham Palace real right in front of me. Walking through the West Ireland village where my great-grandfather lived. All of these Iíve experienced and they left me profoundly changed.

And with plenty of inspiration to write.

I definitely agree. Vacations are for fun and life experience. I was talking more about a Writing Vacation. One that you take for the express purpose of getting concentrated time to write.

A change of scenery is often all it takes to get inspired.

Fictional Cowboy
05-21-2014, 10:17 PM
It was a quest novel with 12 plot coupons,

I love those. If nobody wants it as a novel, could you turn it into a movie script?

Jamesaritchie
05-21-2014, 11:00 PM
For a lot of years, I took writing vacations whenever I could. Trains are wonderful, if you pick and choose. You can get a private room of a couple different kinds. I think the ones just called "bedrooms" are the biggest and best. This way, you don't have to sit next to anyone when writing.

I found most of my favorite places were slower, or didn't move at all. In ranking, my favorite was a houseboat on the Ohio River, a private cabin out in the woods away from everything, and beach house or a hotel room near the beach, depending on price and availabilty.

The exception to moving fast are car trips, and staying at campgrounds. This is probably the cheapest way to travel, and there are campsites all over the west that are free. I really like this kind of vacation, but it's best not to have any destination you need to reach by a certain time. Just go from campsite to campsite, spend as much time as you like at each, then drive for a few hours to the next. It's all gas and food, and an occasional camping fee.

With some research, and by doing these things at the right time of year, they were pretty cheap. I never spent a lot of money on a writing vacation. The only problem I had writing at the beach was that, for me, it takes tremendous willpower to actually get any writing done. I love the ocean, and I want to be out on it.

The one thing I haven't done, and don't have the money to do right now, is rent a boat large enough for the ocean, and roomy enough for a writer and his wife. I'd love to spend two or three weeks, or a month, way out on the ocean, fishing and writing.

Anyway, writing vacations do not have to be terribly expensive, and there's always enough privacy to get the job done, though I'm not sure how well a bus would work. I spent a lot of time on ABC buses and Greyhounds when I was young, and I don't think I could get any writing done. Those buses get old very, very fast, and after a four day trip on one, I felt like I'd spent a month cramped into one position.

Fictional Cowboy
05-22-2014, 12:33 AM
For a lot of years, I took writing vacations whenever I could. Trains are wonderful, if you pick and choose. You can get a private room of a couple different kinds. I think the ones just called "bedrooms" are the biggest and best. This way, you don't have to sit next to anyone when writing.

I found most of my favorite places were slower, or didn't move at all. In ranking, my favorite was a houseboat on the Ohio River, a private cabin out in the woods away from everything, and beach house or a hotel room near the beach, depending on price and availabilty.

The exception to moving fast are car trips, and staying at campgrounds. This is probably the cheapest way to travel, and there are campsites all over the west that are free. I really like this kind of vacation, but it's best not to have any destination you need to reach by a certain time. Just go from campsite to campsite, spend as much time as you like at each, then drive for a few hours to the next. It's all gas and food, and an occasional camping fee.

With some research, and by doing these things at the right time of year, they were pretty cheap. I never spent a lot of money on a writing vacation. The only problem I had writing at the beach was that, for me, it takes tremendous willpower to actually get any writing done. I love the ocean, and I want to be out on it.

The one thing I haven't done, and don't have the money to do right now, is rent a boat large enough for the ocean, and roomy enough for a writer and his wife. I'd love to spend two or three weeks, or a month, way out on the ocean, fishing and writing.

Anyway, writing vacations do not have to be terribly expensive, and there's always enough privacy to get the job done, though I'm not sure how well a bus would work. I spent a lot of time on ABC buses and Greyhounds when I was young, and I don't think I could get any writing done. Those buses get old very, very fast, and after a four day trip on one, I felt like I'd spent a month cramped into one position.

I really enjoyed reading your post. Minus the wife, I could jump at any of those opportunities. I can easily see you on the Queen of the Mississippi paddleboat (five stories) chugging your way down the Mississippi River on one of their cruises.

Alas, money matters. They start at $4,320 per person for a week. I'll stick to Greyhound for now. I'm starting to count myself blessed for having the endurance to sit and write on buses. It doesn't appear to be a very tempting adventure for most.

Filigree
05-22-2014, 12:42 AM
I had a mini writing vacation yesterday, while stuck at court for jury duty for six hours. They had a quiet room, and I was one of perhaps three writers scribbling or tapping away. I didn't end up being called to serve, and got another 12K plotted out on a novella.

I would love to take a more expensive and longer writing vacation in a quiet, comfortable environment. By myself. With a great bed, stellar bathroom, maybe an exercise machine, and good food available 24 hours a day. I don't even need a view; it could look onto brick walls or a mineshaft, for all that I would be looking at it.

Just concentrated alone time, when I could focus on writing. I love my family, really, but they can be special time-sinks.

mrsmig
05-22-2014, 01:02 AM
I try to view any time I have at home and uninterrupted (read: when my husband is out of town) as a writing vacation. I find I get the most done if I don't have to think about anyone else's needs.

I have a couple of weeks off in October and have been toying with the idea of renting a cottage in the Outer Banks - preferably Ocrakoke. I can't afford more than a week, and I'd probably want to spend at least part of that with my husband, but oh! to have just a few days to myself, to wander the beach and look at the water and think, and then go back to the cottage and write...

Heaven. It makes me weak-kneed just to think of it.

LJD
05-22-2014, 01:52 AM
I have never really thought about it, since I like to spend my vacation time hiking. But I can see the appeal, and maybe if I had more time and money, I would do it.

The idea of spending 16 hours on a bus, however, sounds like my worst nightmare. I got motion sick on an elevator last week. 16 hours on a bus...God no.

dangerousbill
05-22-2014, 02:20 AM
Canadian/Alaskan cruise would be great. A four to six month around the world cruise, however, would get me to marry someone!


Doing things that are bound to distract doesn't sound like the doorway to productivity to me. I've never done much useful writing while traveling, unless I had a day or two to kill between meetings or such.

However, I made one profitable 28-day trip by rented RV from Arizona to Illinois and Ontario and back. Although we had grandchildren with us, I was able to retire into the bedroom for a couple of hours nearly every evening to write.

dangerousbill
05-22-2014, 02:23 AM
Anyway, writing vacations do not have to be terribly expensive, and there's always enough privacy to get the job done, though I'm not sure how well a bus would work.


I've found that people on buses love to talk, and unless I had a great capacity for rudeness, I wouldn't get much writing done on a bus trip. For studying a cross-section of characters, though, there are no better places than buses and trains.

Fuchsia Groan
05-24-2014, 09:04 AM
All my vacations have been "writing vacations" spent at home. That is, not really vacations, since either way I'm in front of the computer (I work from home and write for work). But I always take time to go for a hike in my favorite place (an old country estate) and sit down there to do some writing in longhand. I don't like to take my laptop outside, and find that scrawling frees up my thoughts. There's no pressure to revise each sentence into perfection.

I've been fantasizing for a while about a vacation in New Mexico. Not primarily for writing, but I'd probably want to get some done. Anyone know a good place to go and just relax while still seeing some stuff (i.e., desert)?

Helix
05-24-2014, 09:15 AM
For a lot of years, I took writing vacations whenever I could. Trains are wonderful, if you pick and choose. You can get a private room of a couple different kinds. I think the ones just called "bedrooms" are the biggest and best. This way, you don't have to sit next to anyone when writing.

Trains are wonderful! Once I can afford it, I plan to take a transcontinental writing journey on either the 'Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin or vv) or the Indian-Pacific (Sydney to Perth). Not sure how I'd get back, but that's a small issue.

Fictional Cowboy
05-24-2014, 09:21 AM
All my vacations have been "writing vacations" spent at home. That is, not really vacations, since either way I'm in front of the computer (I work from home and write for work). But I always take time to go for a hike in my favorite place (an old country estate) and sit down there to do some writing in longhand. I don't like to take my laptop outside, and find that scrawling frees up my thoughts. There's no pressure to revise each sentence into perfection.

I've been fantasizing for a while about a vacation in New Mexico. Not primarily for writing, but I'd probably want to get some done. Anyone know a good place to go and just relax while still seeing some stuff (i.e., desert)?

I found this blog post called Inspired in New Mexico (http://nestegg.typepad.com/nest-egg/2012/10/inspired-in-new-mexico.html). It sounds like Sante Fe is pretty inspiring.

Here's a YouTube video (one minute, three seconds long) called Ghost Ranch - Chimney Rock - Inspires Writers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib2NTwq5HqI) Then take a look at the related videos to get more ideas.

Speaking of Sante Fe, here's an article on Santa Fe's website called, Inspired by Visionaries: A Workshop for Writers, Readers, and Lovers of Art and Nature. (http://www.santafe.com/calendar/event/inspired-by-visionaries-a-workshop-for-writers-readers-and-lovers-of-art-an)

Then, maybe, once you've been inspired, you can write an article for New Mexico Magazine.Here are their guidelines (http://www.nmmagazine.com/guidelines).

Happy writing!

julietk
05-24-2014, 05:51 PM
I've done a certain amount of writing on (short) train trips, and find it hard to get settled (procrastination, sure, and not confined to travelling) and nearly impossible to write by hand because of the joggling. Typing is OK. Buses are more awkward.

I also spent 25 days on a cargo freighter, as a passenger, coming across the Pacific, and then another 8 days across the Atlantic (took a train across the US in the middle). It was interesting, but I found it incredibly hard to stay motivated. I did have some writing (some on a contracted non-fiction project, some on a fiction project with a deadline) to do, and I did get it done, but it was a lot more like pulling teeth than I'd expected. It felt very much like that thing in airport lounges, where you're just in limbo, waiting for the next thing, but for over 3 weeks. Also, exercise facilities were non-existent, the food was rubbish, and I went a bit weird in the head (and stopped sleeping, which was annoying) by the end of it. I guess a proper cruise at least would have a gym and better food.

It was an interesting experience, though :)

Kylabelle
05-24-2014, 06:04 PM
All my vacations have been "writing vacations" spent at home. That is, not really vacations, since either way I'm in front of the computer (I work from home and write for work). But I always take time to go for a hike in my favorite place (an old country estate) and sit down there to do some writing in longhand. I don't like to take my laptop outside, and find that scrawling frees up my thoughts. There's no pressure to revise each sentence into perfection.

I've been fantasizing for a while about a vacation in New Mexico. Not primarily for writing, but I'd probably want to get some done. Anyone know a good place to go and just relax while still seeing some stuff (i.e., desert)?

Check out Ojo Caliente. It's a hot springs, very small town, and from what I hear from friends who have lived, visited, and worked there, it has lovely vibes.

:D

Carrie in PA
05-25-2014, 04:32 AM
Just set the boundaries before the chatting gets too deep. If the chatter keeps going, as some are prone to do, I have no problem putting a smile on my face and saying, "Phyllis, I'm taking this trip so I can have time to write, remember? I'm sorry but this is important to me."

I'd be more worried about Little Johnny screeching and bawling beside you, filling his diaper and grabbing at your laptop (or notebook) with his boogie-crusted, slobber covered hands while his mother smiles at the angelic little cherub. For. Eight. Hours.

Fictional Cowboy
05-25-2014, 04:58 AM
I'd be more worried about Little Johnny screeching and bawling beside you, filling his diaper and grabbing at your laptop (or notebook) with his boogie-crusted, slobber covered hands while his mother smiles at the angelic little cherub. For. Eight. Hours.

An unlikely scenario taken to extremes. Is there the chance of a crying kid? Sure. Just like there is on a train, plane, in a hotel, in a cafe, the hotel room next door, on the beach in Bali, on a cruise ship or anywhere else you go.

Helix
05-25-2014, 05:08 AM
An unlikely scenario taken to extremes. Is there the chance of a crying kid? Sure. Just like there is on a train, plane, in a hotel, in a cafe, the hotel room next door, on the beach in Bali, on a cruise ship or anywhere else you go.

I'm sure it was exaggerated for comic effect, but if you think it's unlikely...

Of course, it might be dad who's cradling his precious ward. Or Phyllis might be a 6'7" fellow called Phil who is struggling to fit in the seat and who has a hygiene problem.

Fictional Cowboy
05-25-2014, 05:23 AM
I'm sure it was exaggerated for comic effect, but if you think it's unlikely...

Of course, it might be dad who's cradling his precious ward. Or Phyllis might be a 6'7" fellow called Phil who is struggling to fit in the seat and who has a hygiene problem.

I understood the humor. I just pointed out that, wherever anyone decides to go, there are going to be annoying possibilities. Even a secluded cabin in the mountains, far from crying children and hulking she-males could be trouble. You still have the boogie-crusted, slobber covered bears to consider.

If I ended up on a bus with a crying, crusty kid, I'd be more concerned about the mother than myself. That poor dear needs a break and I'd have no problem entertaining the kid until he fell asleep to help her out. Boogies wash off. If I didn't get any writing done, well, there's always the hotel and the bus ride back. And if it happened AGAIN, then I may not get any writing done but I'd be rich with fodder to write about. And one mother will have gotten a break, if just for a little while.

I still believe boundaries are necessary. But, sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and not lose your sense of humor or your flexibility.

Jamesaritchie
05-25-2014, 09:16 PM
I really enjoyed reading your post. Minus the wife, I could jump at any of those opportunities. I can easily see you on the Queen of the Mississippi paddleboat (five stories) chugging your way down the Mississippi River on one of their cruises.

Alas, money matters. They start at $4,320 per person for a week. I'll stick to Greyhound for now. I'm starting to count myself blessed for having the endurance to sit and write on buses. It doesn't appear to be a very tempting adventure for most.

Right now, that's out of my price range, too. But like I said, I've never spent a ton of money on a writing vacation. There's always a cheap way to do something, if you're willing to make concessions about when and where you go.

The thing is, I do my best to write five hours per day, five days per week. I do this at home, and I do this when on a writer vacation. This leaves quite a bit of time for distractions and other pleasures.

In truth, however, deadlines, and simply taking on too many assignments, means I have to write a lot more hours, and it wears me out. Several of our "writing" vacations were really wife vacations. We would go to an area where family and friends were reasonably close, and my wife would have much to do, and many to see. Meanwhile, I stayed wherever our accommodations happened to be, and I worked.

I'd have three or four or five hours in the evening to unwind, but I was usually too tired to do anything other than sit and stare, or go to sleep early. I had a writer vacation at Myrtle Beach, or so the map and my wife said, I doubt I spent more than five or six hours out of our hotel room in ten days.

In theory, a writerly vacation sounds great, and they very often are, but sometimes they just mean you're writing in a room that's several hundred miles from home, and paying for the privilege.

BeeGem
05-27-2014, 05:41 AM
I've done a certain amount of writing on (short) train trips, and find it hard to get settled (procrastination, sure, and not confined to travelling) and nearly impossible to write by hand because of the joggling. Typing is OK. Buses are more awkward.

I also spent 25 days on a cargo freighter, as a passenger, coming across the Pacific, and then another 8 days across the Atlantic (took a train across the US in the middle). It was interesting, but I found it incredibly hard to stay motivated. I did have some writing (some on a contracted non-fiction project, some on a fiction project with a deadline) to do, and I did get it done, but it was a lot more like pulling teeth than I'd expected. It felt very much like that thing in airport lounges, where you're just in limbo, waiting for the next thing, but for over 3 weeks. Also, exercise facilities were non-existent, the food was rubbish, and I went a bit weird in the head (and stopped sleeping, which was annoying) by the end of it. I guess a proper cruise at least would have a gym and better food.

It was an interesting experience, though :)

If you don't mind me asking, how did you arrange to be a passenger on a cargo freighter, Juliet? That sounds really interesting.

I love trains, and I don't mind buses either. I've found that a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones are my friend. They not only block the noise, they also get the message across that you don't want to talk. If it's cheap enough, I sometimes buy the seat beside me if I really don't want to be disturbed. I used to commute to work by train and there was a single seat at the back of each carriage, considered by most to be the most undesirable, but that was the one I always raced for.

I'm not on a writing vacation per se, but I've been unemployed for a wee while and trying to make the most of the free time when not job hunting (I'm happy to say I've just found a new job and will be starting in a few weeks). I don't think you necessarily need to go away from home to have a writing vacation - sometimes just staying home and shutting the world out can work just as well.

Fictional Cowboy
05-27-2014, 08:42 PM
There's always a cheap way to do something, if you're willing to make concessions about when and where you go.

In theory, a writerly vacation sounds great, and they very often are, but sometimes they just mean you're writing in a room that's several hundred miles from home, and paying for the privilege.

Folks always find a way to do (or buy) the things that are the most important to them. I've found that to be true in life. My idea for the $69 overnight (travel and hotel) writing vacation from Minneapolis to Chicago is pretty darn cheap. You can't get less expensive than that.

Writing may just be writing in another room (a rather astute way to see it) but, for me, a change of scenery accomplishes so much that it's worth it. In fact, it's essential when you've been cooped up in the same exact place (and rut) for 15 years without it. It's healing. It also sparks my creativity and urge to write.

The only thing is, I don't know about the timing anymore. If nothing else, it's an option.

jeffo
05-27-2014, 09:30 PM
If you don't mind me asking, how did you arrange to be a passenger on a cargo freighter, Juliet? That sounds really interesting.

Here's one way (http://www.freightercruises.com/)

Jamesaritchie
05-27-2014, 10:28 PM
Folks always find a way to do (or buy) the things that are the most important to them. I've found that to be true in life. My idea for the $69 overnight (travel and hotel) writing vacation from Minneapolis to Chicago is pretty darn cheap. You can't get less expensive than that.

Writing may just be writing in another room (a rather astute way to see it) but, for me, a change of scenery accomplishes so much that it's worth it. In fact, it's essential when you've been cooped up in the same exact place (and rut) for 15 years without it. It's healing. It also sparks my creativity and urge to write.

The only thing is, I don't know about the timing anymore. If nothing else, it's an option.

I completely agree about the change in scenery. It's worth it, whatever you have to do. About 98% of the time, my writer vacations have been wonderful, and I had far more than enough time to get out and enjoy the sites, meet new people, and see new things.

But I try to do this, even when home. I do my best to go somewhere new each week, whether it's a new restaurant, or a meeting on some odd group at the library, or a new homeless shelter, or a church pitch in with the pubic invited, or wherever. For me, it's meeting and talking to new people that really counts.

If we go to something like a traveling fair or carnival, or a Civil War reenactment, or wherever, my wife and whoever goes with us watches everything, or they go on rides, or they play the games. I work my way behind the scenes to wherever the workers hang out, and spend hours talking to them about what they do, and why they do it.

Fictional Cowboy
05-29-2014, 08:29 AM
I completely agree about the change in scenery. It's worth it, whatever you have to do. About 98% of the time, my writer vacations have been wonderful, and I had far more than enough time to get out and enjoy the sites, meet new people, and see new things.

But I try to do this, even when home. I do my best to go somewhere new each week, whether it's a new restaurant, or a meeting on some odd group at the library, or a new homeless shelter, or a church pitch in with the pubic invited, or wherever. For me, it's meeting and talking to new people that really counts.

If we go to something like a traveling fair or carnival, or a Civil War reenactment, or wherever, my wife and whoever goes with us watches everything, or they go on rides, or they play the games. I work my way behind the scenes to wherever the workers hang out, and spend hours talking to them about what they do, and why they do it.

This has been a recent goal of mine, too. I volunteer at a food shelf for half a day on Fridays. I've recently been on a History Detective tour of the Gideon and Agnes Pond House (http://bloomingtonmn.gov/main_top/2_facilities/rec_facility/pond/signs/pondhouse/pondhouse.htm) (complete with hidden staircases), as well as the Central Library with a green roof, four fireplaces, an art gallery, a piano room, four-story atrium and 2.4 million items in the collection, including government documents. And, last Friday I went to Minnihaha Falls for the first time. (Photos below.) At every place, it's talking to the people that I enjoyed the most.

(I hope my pictures are showing up the right size. I re-sized them all to 400 x 224 but, when I preview my post, they're appearing much larger. I've noticed that when I post pictures, they first appear large and then, upon returning, are the correct size. If they remain very large, I'll take them down.)

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n235/FictionalCowboy/Minnehaha%20Falls/IMG_1117_zps0478b5b6.jpg

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n235/FictionalCowboy/Minnehaha%20Falls/IMG_1173_zpscaca3625.jpg

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n235/FictionalCowboy/Minnehaha%20Falls/IMG_1224_zpsa0bcfe72.jpg

Carrie in PA
05-30-2014, 04:01 AM
That waterfall is gorgeous. I could easily see setting up camp and hanging out there for a week. :)

cmi0616
05-30-2014, 04:21 AM
As someone who travels long distances on busses quite frequently, I wouldn't recommend trying to get writing done. There's always a few people on endless cell phone conversations, children crying, and, more often than not, an awful smell coming from the back of the bus.

I do like the idea of taking a vacation to write. I know someone who graduated from college and travelled throughout Latin America--where he could live on very little money--just to get some writing done. But even just staying home and doing some writing sounds awfully nice.

Fictional Cowboy
06-01-2014, 09:22 PM
I agree, Carrie in PA. The way that picture is framed, it looks so serene. In truth, that waterfall is in a city park. While they've forged beautiful, natural walking trails and bridges to explore for a few miles down the river on both sides, you're still in the city with people all around with nowhere to camp. Here's another shot of it from a distance.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n235/FictionalCowboy/Minnehaha%20Falls/IMG_1116_zps406c8f2d.jpg



As someone who travels long distances on busses quite frequently, I wouldn't recommend trying to get writing done. There's always a few people on endless cell phone conversations, children crying, and, more often than not, an awful smell coming from the back of the bus.

I think every writer has their own triggers... good and bad. I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences.

When I was younger, I needed to have everything perfect if I was going to attempt to write. It had to be quiet and comfortable. I never did get any writing done back then. In truth, I had romanticized writing beyond the point of actually being able to write. Silly me.

After a 15 year absence from writing, and being older and wiser, I've been through the minefields of life's distractions. But for precious few writers, life's circumstances will never be ideal for writing. If we waited for those ideal circumstances, none of us would ever get any writing done. Life isn't ideal.

I decided not to avoid the world and it's inconveniences but to learn to write in the middle of them. As I did, I received an unexpected benefit - it filled my well of experience to draw from.

I've been sat in the middle of Wenceslas Square in Prague writing with thousands of people around, taking pictures of me and peering over my shoulders. I've sat on the cliffs of Galway with nothing but the roar of the Atlantic Ocean and a hundred pigeons flying and flocking (and landing on) me. Romantic? Maybe. Noisy and uncomfortable? Absolutely.

I've also written in malls, playgrounds, on buses and the light rail. Sounds, smells, bumps, voices, distractions, busybodies, etc., I've learned to not only draw from them but write through them.

I can't wait for ideal circumstances anymore. I've missed too many opportunities as it is that way (in more than just writing).

All I need to write... is time. In that 32 hour time period, I can log 18-20 hours of writing. If I have to wash off a few crusty bogeys from kids and wear earplugs, I can deal with it. And will probably write about it.