Could A Writing Getaway Improve Your Focus?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Doing Revisions

A writing getaway can inspire you to write your novel or finish it. I plan a getaway when I’m doing my final edits and don’t want a lot of distractions.

You know the kind of distractions I mean. People hoping you’ll put a meal on the table table. Laundry in the dryer. Weeds in the garden. Bills to be paid. All of these have an insidious way of eroding concentration.

beach in Kauai

When I’m on vacation, I’m like this guy: eyes closed, listening to the waves, not even bothering to stare out at the horizon.

A Writing Getaway Is Not A Vacation

Though you might go to a vacation destination for a writing getaway, you don’t go with a vacation mindset. When I’m on vacation I want to go to the beach and snorkle. I want to spend time with my family and have time away from work.

Yes, I could apply to a writing residency; however, applying for those requires lead time, and you must also send a manuscript for a committee to approve. That’s extra work. I’ve done residencies and benefited a lot, mainly because my daily life is solitary. Sometimes, though, I’m okay just hanging with the people in my book.

Timeshares Make Great Getaways

My husband and I have a timeshare, and as part of that ownership package, we became members of Interval, a timeshare exchange network. The other big exchange is RCI.

I use my normal timeshare week for travel with my husband or kids, but if I’m planning a getaway, I grab one the exchanges’ last-minute deals. Usually, I can find an apartment for $250 to $300 per week, and if I’m trying to revise or finish a book, I like having a kitchen. Preparing a simple meal gives me a reason to get up and stretch.

How I Plan A Getaway

When I plan a getaway, I bring my own ergonomically comfortable work-space. I’ve never found a hotel room with a desk at a comfortable typing height, nor can I depend on a hotel chair. Most of them kill my back.

If I’m going away to write, here’s what I recommend:

  • A camp chair
  • A portable desk
  • Hiking boots
  • A portable printer (I like a Canon)
  • Post-its
  • And a laptop

The specific desk I bring is a Tabletote with the little wand to hold manuscript pages.

I’ve tried out many different camp chairs, including camp chairs from REI and camp chairs my friends bring when we go out and howl at the moon.

camping in desert

Most collapsible chairs are flimsy. If I’m sitting for three or four hours at a time, I want a chair that give me good back and arm support. I found a Director’s Chair at my local Cabela’s that I like a lot.

As for a printer, I own a CANON BJC-85 printer. It weighs less than two pounds. Canon’s not making them anymore, but you might be able to find one on e-Bay.

An equally good bet would be CANON PIXMA iP110 Wireless Mobile Printer. It’ll run you about $160, but that’s pretty reasonable, considering the quality of its printing.

Here’s what my portable office looks like in online stores.
Tabletote desk
Directors chair
Now, the question becomes how heavy is to carry? With a strap over one shoulder, I tote the chair, which is surprisingly lightweight. In my other hand I drag a small roller bag containing my laptop, printer, cartridges, and desk.

Here’s what the “office” looks like bungee-corded together. (The bag under the blue water bottle contains my walking sticks.)
writing getaway kit
As for clothes, I bring two pairs of jeans, three tee-shirts, and a windbreaker. Notice the purple boots?

National Parks In the Off-Season Make Great Getaway Destinations

I like to get out in nature, but since I’m going to work, I need a power outlet. This isn’t going to be a “relax and chill” trip. Even so, I want a destination that will feed my writer’s soul.

If you’re ready to dig into your novel and don’t own a timeshare, take a look at the article below. One of the grand, old National Park hotels, especially in the spring or fall when it’s easier to get a reservation, might line up with your objectives.

If you thought that staying overnight in a national park meant roughing it, you might want to take a closer look at your options. Although sleeping under the stars in Zion National Park and pitching a tent […]

Have you ever tried a getaway? What would be the ideal place for you to get some writing done?


2 Responses to “Could A Writing Getaway Improve Your Focus?”

  1. Chandra Graham says:

    I dream/obsess about this topic ALL the time. I have considered begging friends with vacation homes for my temporary use of them – even 2 days would be a huge benefit. But it is a very difficult issue for any outsider to understand.

    I have seen funding requests on Kickstarter from other people with similar needs, though it seems incredibly cheeky to request “$10,000 to fund my month away so I can finish my foundering novel,” etc. (paraphrase of an actual campaign I saw there).

    Thanks for the pointers on the portable writing station, great idea!

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