Writing Breaks: Finding Rest and Inspiration

Hello, dear readers and fellow writers! Today I’m taking a break from our series on Novel Writing 101, because I can’t resist the chance to share with you about my recent trip to Ireland. But to keep things writing-related, here’s our angle–taking guilt-free writing breaks.

Have you ever reached that place in your work where you’re stumped? Fresh out of ideas? Or, perhaps you’re just so worn out that each word is like pulling out a tooth? We all know there are times when we don’t feel like working, and we just have to push on and get it done anyway. But there are other times when we have to acknowledge we’ve been pushing too hard, and it’s time for a rest. After all, you can’t produce creative work if your creative well is bone-dry empty.

Take a cue from God, the ultimate Creator–Genesis chapter 1 tells us that after He spoke the world into existence in 6 days, He rested on the 7th day. If the Creator of the universe can take a day off to rest, I think we can too.

Now, the bonus about taking a break from your writing is that it gives you time to experience other things in life. What’s our source material for most of our work? Certainly writers have excellent imaginations, but we need to draw on our life experiences too. You know the old adage, write what you know. The best way to know how our characters would feel or respond in a given situation is to experience those same feelings ourselves, if not the situation itself. And it’s hard to collect life experiences if you never take a break from your laptop.

Sometimes those breaks need to be intentional; other times, we need to be willing to roll with an opportunity when it arises. In my case, the opportunity arrived unexpectedly in the form of a wedding invitation from a dear college friend of mine who has lived in Dublin, Ireland for the past several years. When another college friend from Indiana asked me to travel with her, I jumped on the opportunity. I also used my departure date as a deadline to help motivate me to finish revising my YA Fantasy, The Cursed Ones.

Now, international travel for a wedding to a country you’ve never visited isn’t exactly “restful,” in the relaxing sense of the word. My friend and I were busy every single day, either taking a bus tour from Dublin to see the countryside or helping the bride-to-be with wedding details and decorations. But, I spent nearly a week seeing gorgeous countryside, interacting with the Irish, and learning new English-Irish customs and slang. I don’t have any plans (yet) for a book set in Ireland, but just experiencing a different culture, along with all the details of travel, will come in handy in any number of stories.

On to the fun part–here are some pictures from various places we visited on our bus tours, along with some insights I picked up along the way.

Cliffs of Moher (west side of the island):

The cliffs of Moher were sublime, but tend to be a bit tricky to see because of the weather. Rain and fog are typical here (you can see the fog rolling in in my pictures). We were rather soaked by the time our bus left. On the upside, we enjoyed a delicious pub lunch at McGann’s afterward, on our way to the city of Galway.

 

Blarney Castle:

There’s a stone at the top that supposedly, if you kiss it, will grant you the gift of eloquence. I guess I’ll never attain to such heights, because I wasn’t willing to wait in line for an hour to do it. (You also have to lie down on your back and lean out from the top parapet.) And, if I’m being honest, I find the idea of kissing a rock that millions of others have kissed to be a little bit on the disgusting side.

 

Kilkenny Castle and city:

Kilkenny was a great little city, full of shops, old buildings, a castle, and cathedrals.

 

Glendalough Monastic Site:

The monastery at Glendalough was founded in the 6th century by one of the patron saints of Ireland, St. Kevin. The site is mostly in ruins now, but it’s in a lovely location close to the Wicklow Mountains. (On a side note, the area just north of here was used in the filming of Braveheart because it resembles the Scottish highlands. As a further aside, our tour guide told us that the “Scots” in Braveheart fighting alongside Mel Gibson were actually members of the Irish army, who apparently weren’t needed elsewhere at the time.)

 

A few other tidbits for my fellow Americans:

If you ask someone where the restroom is, they’ll give you a strange look. “Bathroom” or “toilet” is okay. Or “the loo.” Apparently “water closet” and W.C. are old-fashioned now.

The food is SO good. The meat is generally free range and grass-fed, and for the most part preservatives, GMOs, and yucky food additives aren’t allowed. It was one of the few times I felt like I could eat without worrying about the ingredients.

“Chips”= fries, “crisps”=potato chips

Food is stored in “the presses,” or cupboards.

You can find Guinness beer everywhere.

If you like chocolate, you’ve got to visit Butler’s Cafe. The mint hot chocolate and the truffles were probably what I spent the most money on during the course of my stay… 🙂

 

As you can see, it was a great trip, as was my friend’s wedding. Now that I’m back and have had a lovely rest, I’m ready to dive back into my writing. Thanks for sticking with me through all the travel pictures, and we’ll get back on topic next time with our first draft preplanning.

 

Image credits: Kellie VanHorn

 

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