Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wildcard Weekend: Do Writers Go on Holiday?

Harlequin Romance Author Melissa James Explains the Necessity of Refilling the Well.

This is a question that’s taken hold of me over the past few months, and thought I’d share with you.

Have you ever thought of how writers work? How we get our books done? There are wonderful stories – Debbie Macomber’s rented office without a phone, and she works normal office hours; I’ve heard of those with studies and they shut the door, stating “only open this if someone’s bleeding to death” and they only emerge after writing 5-10,000 words.

Ah, to have either life! But for most writers it isn’t like that. We care for our families and friends, do the house (when we think of it), cook, clean, write at what quiet moments we find. You see, due to the need to get another book out, but having family/children/friends/house, we writers tend to work whenever we can slot it in. For the past four and a half years I’ve written through vacation, writers’ conferences, kids’ sickness, moving overseas, my daughter’s wedding preparations, on planes and in hospitals as I travelled back and forth from Australia during serious illness and death in the family, and even through the many visitors coming to see us here in Europe, getting up early to not inconvenience anyone… and I realized I’ve been feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel, always running but feeling as if I was getting nowhere.

I told my editor how I felt. She called, and after a long, encouraging chat (she is so lovely!), I said I could get revisions on this book done and then I’d go on holidays – but I couldn’t seem to go forward. So with the blessing of my publisher, I’m taking time out to refill the well. I’ve been walking in the sunshine by our local lake, going to the gym, having coffee with friends, and just enjoying the (brief) European summer. My last child at home went to Kenya for a school thing for almost a month, so I also joined my husband in his globe-trotting work meetings. I visited Moscow, St. Petersburg (what a magnificent place – I loved every historical and cultural moment! I am so setting one of my historical books there!), and just this last weekend, Derbyshire in England. What a stunningly beautiful, inspiring place…I took 200 pictures, and I’m sure I’ll be using them in stories to come.

Refreshing the well has been exactly what I needed. I am fitter, less tired, and remembering to enjoy life. Sometimes we writers get so lost in the realms of fantasy we forget to live here – we don’t forget our families and friends, but sometimes we forget ourselves. And so that’s what I’m doing now: remembering myself. I love to write. I love creating stories. And I’m sure, after my break, I’ll come back with 20 ideas in my head, bursting to do them – actually, one’s already beginning to sing to me, and I know that, before long, I’ll be writing books again. In fact, it’s probably closer than even I think – so I’m taking time out now before Ms Muse comes back to visit me again, and I’m hunched over my laptop with my candles burning and my headphones in so I don’t annoy my family with my music…so it won’t be too long before you might see the next Melissa James release on the shelves.

Have you ever needed time out? What have you done, where have you gone to refresh yourself?

Melissa's next release is The Sheik's Destiny, out in August from Harlequin Romance.


  1. Melissa what a wonderful post! I feel inspired... And not by a new story idea for once.

    I'm off for a week's holiday to Florence in a week's time and I was planning to take my laptop as I have a deadline looming (as always), but I'm seriously considering leaving it at home now. And the thought is liberating.


  2. I'm glad you took some time to refill your well. I have to write when I can as well--and have felt like a hamster on a wheel, too, but a bit of free time is lovely and rejuvenating.

  3. Your break sounds perfect, Melissa. Hope you took lots of snaps for the next WIP file!

  4. Thanks, guys! Sorry to be silent, was in Geneva for the weekend and net access was 15 Swiss Francs per hour...! And was very busy. :-))

    Heidi, I strongly recommend the break. All people need a break sometimes and we writers sometimes forget to factor in time out. We have to remember this is our career, not our "hobby" - it's hard work. Not having any real time out for 4 years broke my creativity. It's just starting to come back now with new ideas.

    All I can say is, do it!