Wednesday, July 13, 2005

To Laptop or Not To Laptop

In ten days I leave for a week long vacation, and I'm trying to decide if I should take my laptop along or not. The condo where we are staying does not have internet hookup, so I'll be offline for that week. I'm actually not minding that part as much as I would have thought; no distractions, no feeling guilt about blogging or not, kind of a chance to get away from it all.

Since I can't cruise the internet, the only reason I'd be taking my laptop is, ostensibly, to get some writing done. (Well, that and we'll probably use my laptop's DVD to entertain the kids on the seven hour drive, but my DH's laptop could do that if I wanted to leave mine at home.) And it's this "get some writing done" that's stopped me cold.

I view writing as both a pleasure and a pain. I love to write, and nothing sounds sweeter than the idea of having a relaxing week with no structure to it in which I can grab quiet moments here and there to get some writing done. If someone told me I had to stay locked up in my house for an entire month with no one else around, I would be jumping up and down at the idea of writing as much as I wanted rather than whenever I could.

But the flip side of this coin is the guilt. When I don't write, I feel guilty. I feel like I'm playing hookey from my job. I'm trying to live by the writer's credo of "Write Every Day", and I pretty much do. Even if I don't get anything done on my WIPs, I at the very least write this blog. Every single day I make the effort to put word on paper.

So if I take my laptop with me on vacation but end up not writing a single word, will I feel horrible? Will I feel my vacation was wasted? If I surrender now - decide I'm truly going to take "time off" to be with the family - and leave the laptop at home, it's a guarantee that I won't get any writing done, and there will be none of this glancing at it longingly as I run out the door and down on to the beach.

Whenever I get to the point of thinking I'll devote my attention 100% to my family for an entire week, though, I get a bit twitchy. Because there are bound to be a few down moments. An hour here or there when the kids are resting or occupied and the DH napping. Moments before bedtime when the condo is quiet. And those are the moments I'd regret not using. So maybe having the laptop along, just in case, is a good idea.

Or what if I'm blindsided by The Idea, the one that has never before been conceived and will be The One to win me permanent banning from the NYT Bestsellers list because it's just not fair to all of the other writers out there (a la Harry Potter books)? What do I do if I have a rush of creativity and the words are ready to stream from my fingers, yet there is no recepticle to catch them? And before you remind me that there is always those things called pencils and paper, I cannot write creatively via longhand. My brain works in backspace mode, and trying to write on paper is nearly impossible for me. I'd seriously regret not having my laptop if the Muse strikes hot.

Except, she might be on vacation, too.

I don't know. I've got ten days to decide.


MaryF said...

I took my Alphasmart and the hard copy of my ms on our vacation (it was a road trip, thought I'd get a lot done.) I did get 6,000 done, but that was it. Too much scenery. But I do know the guilt feeling!

Anonymous said...

Different beach, different condo, exact same circumstances. And the night before we left, I took a deep breath and decided I was going to leave my laptop behind. Ten days. Cold turkey. Just me, my family, and a very large dose of sunny RL.

Here's what nearly did me in: the Quiet. Not inside the condo or out- I have three kids so there is no such thing- but the quiet space inside my head when we weren't swimming, surfing, kayaking, or eating out. When it was just us- down time- sitting around watching Nicktoons.

I think I imagined that would be very relaxing. A vacation in every way. No words in my head to turn over, no plots to ponder, no dialogue to 'eavesdrop' on. Instead, it
drove me a little crazy.

I went to the bookstore every third day. Read hundreds of pages in order to fill-up that quiet place where my imagination generally plays.

Am I scaring you, Lynn? Maybe it's just me? As often as I tell myself "I'm taking a break from writing," especially on the heels of a big project, I find myself lonely without the company of all those 'voices' in my mind's pocket.

Does this blog take requests? I'd love to know if other writers find it so difficult to NOT write.

-Your Southern Sister

Steph T. said...

Well, I wouldn't let the guilt get you - everyone needs time to recharge. The thing is, sometimes a different places makes you want to write, so if it were me I'd take it, just in case. Or write longhand for a change of pace if the mood strikes.

And yes, Southern Sister, I find it VERY difficult not to write. I guess that's both a good and bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, if The Idea shows up, why can't you just use your DH's laptop? ;)