I took a bit of a vacation from social media in December. I hadn’t planned to do it. It just sort of happened when I found myself writing in the mornings, but then blowing off the afternoons after only one other chore and then gaming … or crafting … or colouring … or sitting outside at a bonfire to watch the snow … anything that emphasizes fun over productivity. Okay, I might have had to work a little for the bonfire. But that’s okay. I love snow, so I still had fun and it was worth it. Sometimes it’s just necessary to step back and reclaim some perspective.
I had a marvelous time unplugging, even if it wasn’t an all-or-nothing kind of thing. I still got up at 6:00 every morning to write. And I wrote so much that the first draft of Elf Gate book #5 is now about 2/3 done. I found a new method of organizing my writing, so the workflow is much better, and one night my muse held me hostage to make me finish plotting out the rest of the series. No lie. I was trying to sleep, but every 10-15 minutes I would get an idea and sit up to grab my phone and jot notes in Evernote so I wouldn’t forget them come morning. But I ended doing that ALL NIGHT! I didn’t get any sleep, but I practically outlined the entire rest of the series in one night. I’ve never done anything like that before, so though my head felt like a sponge the next morning, I still felt pretty amazed.
But then I would stop writing after my 3-hour morning block and dress in my work-out skivvies to go shovel snow, come in for breakfast and a hot shower, and then go right back to writing until lunch. After lunch, I’d pick one “grown-up task” to do. (shopping, laundry, clean house, etc.) But then I’d spend the rest of the day intentionally picking activities I had not been able to do in a long time.
I bought myself a colouring book and broke out my old art journal and pencils. I finally got around to knitting a “Jayne Cobb Cunning Hat” for myself. (Yes, I like the Firefly series. But I like what was said about Jayne’s hat in the show even more: “A man walks down the street in that hat, and people know he’s not afraid of anything.” Truth.)
I finished an Oblivion mod that I haven’t worked on since 2011, according to my notes. I was converting the Cheydinhal player home into a Morrowind-style home that I called “Ashlander Estate”.
And then I actually played Oblivion, which I had not done in ages. I was worried at first that upgrading to Windows 10 had screwed up my game because it kept crashing and textures were awful and wouldn’t save. I finally got disgusted enough that I was ready to uninstall and reinstall the game. But in doing so, I got an error message about needing to insert the Oblivion disk. I thought, “Wtf? The disk is already in there.” But then I checked, and it was the original Oblivion disk. XD … I had installed the Game of the Year edition with the add-ons. (Derpy moment for moi having to take out one Oblivion disk for the other.) Worked like a charm after that! (Note to self: the computer can tell the difference between the two Oblivion disks, even if I can’t.)
I watched old movies, I read some books, I crafted myself a day-planner and reorganized my computer somewhat after updating to Windows 10 (which then also required some work on games that no longer worked correctly, but so it goes with software updates *sigh*).
The irony is that in looking back over my rebellion against having a “productive” December, I was actually quite productive! There’s a lot of things I needed to do that I didn’t get done, but being able to feed my mind the kinds of activities that breed creativity (as opposed to just droning through the day doing legal work, other paper work, social obligations, house work, etc.) felt like I was taking a vacation, even though I wasn’t. Like the massive snowfall of recent, it was something that I needed in order to feel healthy again — to feel like myself again.
I still had to deal with the depression that comes with missing loved ones I couldn’t be with during the holidays. And I still had to cope with the anxiety of crap like this, where I caught the dog eating the cat food; and the cat dumped my hair band in the dog’s water and then played with it, spilling the water everywhere. (Why in the world did I sign on for this circus?!) But between the snow and the “fake” vacation days, I survived the holiday season.
My semi-unplugged, creative half-days gave me a sense of grounding and stability during a difficult time of the year for me without the guilt of feeling like I wasn’t doing anything productive. My first draft is nearly done with probably 75% of it being accomplished in a matter of a few weeks, even though I’d been working on it since I sent the previous book out to beta readers. But perhaps the most productive activity of all was taking place under the surface; sometimes time spent “just being” is time spent healing wounds that get no attention while I’m running around multitasking. Now that the holidays are behind me, I’m ready to get back to work again. 🙂
Have you ever tried to trick yourself into thinking you’re vacationing when you’re not? How did it go? I might try a month of half-days again next December. Or possibly this summer. ;p