The Thing I Should Have Packed for Vacation: My Writing Habit

The holidays are over, and they were lovely. My one regret? I didn’t write a single thing down during them. I think the only thing I wrote, literally, was a Turks and Caicos Customs Entry form and a check. Now I find myself with a holiday hangover, literally and figuratively. My pants feel tight. My brain feels loose. I’m having endorphin withdrawal. And to top it off, this muscle I’d started to tone, this writing muscle, is all flabby again.

Me having a great time with Instagram-friendly drinks at the Bight Settlement Fish Fry.

I had so much material! I could have written about the fried conch at Mudjin Harbor Grill (stupendous), or the mediocre but Insta-friendly coffee at Lemon2Go, the Gwen guilt about how much money we spent on vacation (without her), the unadulterated joy of a six-year-old with a new baby doll, the glory of the Snowbear (a dessert and a drink, in one, with just two ingredients). I could have written about the year that was and the year ahead. I could have written about how one thing from 2019 which gives me an embarrassing bit of joy is that I started to write again – and share it with people.

Alas, I did not. Know what I did instead? I read the first six books of Winston Graham’s Poldark series. They are fantastic. I understand why my colleague loves the show so much that her screensaver is Ross Poldark himself. Well, fine, I almost understand that now. I read, and read, and read. There are still six books left, so as I come out of my holiday haze into the new year I am tempted to put my head back into the book and keep reading right through January.

Except an excerpt I read this fall keeps nagging at me. Ann Patchett wrote that her advice to wannabe authors is this:

“I tell them to give this great dream that is burning them down like a house on fire one lousy hour a day for one measly month, and when they’ve done that – one month, every single day – to call me back and we’ll talk… Do you want to do this thing? Sit down and do it. Are you not writing? Keep sitting there. Does it not feel right? Keep sitting there.”

So I will sit here and try to write. I will do this, in fact, every day this month. Regardless of whether there are pina coladas to be drunk or tiles to be selected or toilets to be ordered. Once a day, for the rest of January, I commit to writing something – or trying to write something. I have a stockpile of ideas, thanks to taking two weeks off and traveling.

What, this doesn’t look like a good environment for doing some writing?

I do, also, have books seven through twelve staring at me. An ambitious Alicia on one shoulder, a hibernating Alicia on the other. Who will triumph in January?

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Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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