Having just returned from a vacation, this topic seemed especially relevant and top-of-mind.
Everyone knows that vacations are wonderful. They're a chance to step away from the day-to-day hustle of work and can really recharge your mental batteries.
But what we don't sometimes fully realize are the benefits it provides to our writing abilities.
Today, let's talk about this theory: Going on a vacation can actually sharpen your writing skills.
The Power of Observation
Exploring new places puts all five senses on high alert. Your brain is constantly taking note of new sounds, smells, sights, textures, and tastes around you. This is in juxtaposition to a non-vacation day, in which your setting probably becomes a bit stale and your senses fall into their comfortable, low-gear state. Same office, same familiar faces, same tasks.
But during a vacation, your brain shifts. Sometimes this inundation of new sensory data can be information overload. However, it offers major advantages for the descriptive imagery part of your writing brain.
Think about it: You're noticing all of these new, interesting intricacies of your surroundings. The way a city street sounds after a heavy rain. The smell of a sharp, peppery spice wafting past you from a restaurant window. How sunlight plays through leaves of an unfamiliar tree. These observations and nuggets of descriptive gold go into your mental storage and can be incorporated into a writing task when you return.
Many of us fall into a very familiar cadence with writing when we get into a routine. Pieces start to blend together; all structured the same with similar syntax mirrored throughout. Going on a vacation reminds us to step out of the comfort zone and try something new.
One example of being uncomfortable comes from our recent experience with international travel. In a very local restaurant where we didn't speak the language or know what to order, we had to surrender ourselves to feeling out of place and not knowing if we'd like the results. It turned out to be a great experience (with delicious food!)
This lesson translates into writing as well. Approaching a writing piece from a new angle or perspective often feels uncomfortable, but can bring new life to your message and can open doors to new audiences. Don't just stick with one style because it's what you've always done.
Looking at a computer screen or mobile device day in and day out isn’t inspiring or helpful for your creative juices. When you allow yourself to be fully removed from work mode, you can open your eyes to new scenery and settings that get the creativity flowing again.
Do you have to travel a long distance to make achieve this effect? No. But you have to get out of the office and let your eyes feast on some new, mentally stimulating material. When you get back to work, you might find you have a fresh take on an assignment that is all thanks to stepping away.
Whether writing is the main focus of your work or merely a byproduct, it’s the season to take a quick break and enjoy the world around you. Let your experiences shape and inspire your words.