This might seem out of order. When a big deadline is looming, isn’t it better to tackle that first, and take a break later, when you’re getting burned out? Sometimes. But a real escape in between a semester of teaching and an expanse of time devoted to writing can do something I think is essential. It can help to hit the reset button – to get away from all my daily habits (e-mail, blogging, etc.). And even to get away from the scholarly project itself. When the vacation is over, it’s much easier for me to rethink how to structure my daily life, and even how to set-up my workspace, and then to dive back in with a level of energy that I hope will sustain me until the deadline is met.
For a reset, not every getaway will do it. Here’s what worked for me:
- I left my laptop at home.
- I had almost no internet and cell phone access.
- I left all project and other work-related reading at home, with one exception. I took one project-related book that is written for a general audience and is a good read, but I did not have a goal of finishing the book.
- The vacation was only a week – and everyone really can do without me for a week, so I didn’t have to worry about being out of touch.
- I took a trip that was all-encompassing and completely outside my comfort zone. For me, any adventure vacation that takes all my attention will do it. This time we took very hard and treacherous horseback rides across beautiful mountains, had near-encounters with Grizzly Bears, and other adventures. When trying to control a horse during a thunderstorm, at least for this inexperienced rider, it is simply impossible to think about unanswered email, unwritten blog posts, faculty politics, and looming writing anxieties. I had no choice but to leave it all behind.
Photos by Alicia.