Last week my husband and I took off for Vermont to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We only traveled 4.5 hours from home, but being in the mountains of Vermont felt like another world. While we were staying in Stowe (and one night in Burlington), I thought a lot about my writing process. Then I came home and felt like I had really learned something about myself while on vacation.
Vacation taught me that:
- A new environment breeds new ideas. I was practically bursting with ideas for not only short stories, my work-in-progress, and character sketches, but also for my writing business. It’s amazing how much your mind opens up when you’re in a new place, seeing new sights, meeting new people, breathing new air. And let me tell you– that Vermont air is so damn clean. I swear it somehow cleared out my brain and gave me awesome new ideas.
- Distance gives you clarity. Before we left for our trip, I was feeling kind of frazzled. I was saying yes to every writing opportunity that came along, even to grant writing and script writing, two areas I’m not familiar with. I was afraid of letting an opportunity pass by, but at the same time, I was overwhelming myself to the point of feeling paralyzed and unable to work. So while we were away, I got crystal-freaking-clear about my work. I decided I’m a copywriter first and my main work is going to be copywriting– this is where I can make a reasonable income and where my creativity can grow. If and when I have time/energy to explore other types of writing, I’ll look into it. But only if it feeds my creativity instead of drain it.
- Relaxing is essential for productivity. After a week of relaxing, reading, exploring, biking, eating, and sleeping, I was completely recharged and ready to get back to work. I know some writers find it hard to get away and relax (I mean, we don’t get paid vacation time or anything), but taking a break from working is really important to overall productivity. I’m not saying anything new or groundbreaking here… but if you’re a writer who never takes a vacation, find at least a weekend in the near future where you will disconnect and let yourself recharge. You probably could use it!
- New experiences open you up for new career opportunities. While we were on vacation, I visited a lot of businesses and realized that I can reach out to clients all over the country, if not all over the world. How exciting is that for a writer in little old Rhode Island? When you step out of your comfort zone you might realize all the opportunities that are out there in the world.
- Writing is an important service and my rates are what they are for a reason. Established businesses charge what they’re worth, and if the product is of high quality, customers don’t mind paying for the service. We paid $9 for the really good iced coffee at the independent cafe because the service was great and the product was worth it. We paid $20 for a historic ghost walk around Stowe because the tour leader was kind, knowledgeable and interesting and the service was worth it. We paid $30 each for hibachi at our special dinner out because the restaurant was nice, the chef was really talented (no one left scarred or burnt, so in my mind he was talented), and the food was great. These experiences helped me see that my writing is no different– it’s a service that customers will pay for if they think the service is exceptional enough. It’s not good enough to be just good enough. You have to go above and beyond. You have to write every day. Practice. Take classes. Learn. Offer better and more services. Be the person clients want to work with. You have to be clear about who you are, what your service is and what you’re worth and run with that.