Monday, June 13, 2011

7 Reasons to Take Your Laptop on Vacation

Summer's here, and many of us will be heading out on trips of one sort or another: vacations, conferences, business travel, weekend jaunts. You might be tempted to just leave your writing projects at home and get back to them later. That might be the right thing to do if you've been working intensely to meet deadlines or perfect a piece of writing. In that case, you could use a breather. Or if the point of the vacation is to spend time with your family, they may be a little miffed if you bring work with you. Still, as a writer, consider taking your laptop or at least a journal with you on your travels. Here are 7 reasons why:

1. Capture brilliant ideas. Some of the best ideas come to us while we're staring idly out the car window or lying on a deck chair. You may think you'll never forget that great idea for a story or wonderful turn of phrase, but why take a chance? Jot it down while it's fresh in your mind.

2. Eavesdrop. Traveling in a different region or a foreign country is a great way to pick up the cadence of the local dialect and certain words or phrases you don't hear every day. You may never utter the phrase, "Well, that just dills my pickle!" but it might be a perfect line for the Southern belle in your story.

3. Describe the location. What's the weather like where you're going? What kinds of plants grow there? How does the air feel? What do you smell? Is it flat, hilly, mountainous? What do the houses look like? What are people wearing? Driving? Doing? You never know when some of these details might work their way into a story, if you've captured them on paper or on your hard drive.

4. Remember the food. What's the regional cuisine? Are there foods you can't get at home? What's the predominant ethnic influence? Seafood at the beach? Cherries in the fruit belt? Enjoy a succulent regional meal and take notes, right there at the table. (Maybe someone will think you're a restaurant critic and you'll get extra-special VIP treatment!)

5. Pass the time. Travel can involve a lot of waiting in airports, train stations, and hotel lobbies. If you have a writing project with you to work on, you'll never have to be bored.

6. Escape. Sometimes vacations can lead to a little too much family togetherness. Taking some time out to go to a quiet place and write for a while can restore your equilibrium.

7. Read the local press and regional magazines. News items and features about what's going on in other parts of the country or world can be great fodder for stories you might want to pitch to editors back home. Make a note of them.

Bon voyage, and happy writing!


Norm de Ploom said...

I have been with family when they get miffed when I check my computer. It is habit forming, addictive and obnoxious. On the other hand, airports are great places to use your laptop to note the observations, smells and various people you see. I rarely check local news but that is a great idea to tie everything together.

elizabethbrinton said...

It has been an issue in the past. We took a trip to Tahiti for a big milestone in our young lives. I booked one 'splurge' night at a beautiful hotel. When my husband pulled out the computer, I got very surly. Looking back, I think I ruined the special night more by my anger. It is a given now; I leave mine at home and he has computer time everywhere we go. I take an ever present book to read, and a travel diary. It is just who we are!

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

One of the downsides of being self-employed is having nobody to take over for us when we're on vacation. So it's a given that both my husband and myself will need to at least check in once a day to make sure nothing's exploding. When we're with family we try to do this first thing in the morning and last thing at night, leaving most of the day open for visiting. The upside is that we can go to the beach in the middle of the workday. Everything's a trade-off.