• Caroline A. Richardson

The Value of Down Time

Every year, at the end of June, my husband, children and I leave the city. For four days, we escape, and glide off into wilderness. We revel in spotty cell phone signal, the water slapping against the side of the canoe, and the stars and a campfire light our way to our tents each night.


It is our annual end of school year canoe trip in Algonquin Park. This is year three of said tradition. We started it when the kids were old enough to handle a few days roughing it, and hopefully by the time they are older teenagers, they’ll still want to go.


This trip is always a needed escape when the kids are done for the summer. Closing off a year, like pressing a reset button, allows the kids to transition away from the grind of assignments and tests, and ready themselves for a couple of months of lessened responsibilities. It can be a rough landing going from all that daily routine to lazy summer days, so we started the trip as a way to ease them into it.


We need this trip more so now because it has been an incredibly hard year for them. They ping-ponged back and forth between in school to online. Masks. Distancing. More hand sanitizer than you can (not) shake hands to. Friends who went fully online and weren’t around anymore.


Adjustments that had to be made at record speed for kids who do not have the executive functioning (yet) to do it quickly...


However...


We ended up not getting into the canoe at the last minute with thunderstorms and heavy rain for the four days we would be in the back country. No fun for kids, and we want them to still want to camp after an experience. Packing up soggy tents and paddling in downpour is not exactly a good time. So we hooked up the RV and headed to another provincial park on Georgian Bay which had better weather! I had little to no cell signal and it was a true break! In the end we got the trip we needed, just in a different way.


Note: I wrote most of this blog post before we left, but it will post when we get back.


Breaks


I think everyone needs to have breaks like this now and again. Not just vacations and adventure, but breaks from the constant. I’ve mentioned it before, where breaks can sometimes get you out of a rut, refresh your tired mind, and give new perspective in your writing.


But sometimes we need a break to refresh our entire world, not just one aspect.


I have been writing for well over over two decades, and almost non-stop since 2015, with two books finished and posted in that time. When I won a 2019 Watty, and saw success with Out of His League, it fueled the fire to pick up the pace. I take little breaks between books, but nothing long (if I can help it). I wanted to keep that momentum, and hone my process!


I loved the momentum! That momentum gave me Western Heat, A Royal Deception Season 2, Western Connection, and partial books of Rohan’s Choice, Finding Artorius, and two short stories The Fish and His Favourite Colour. It also gave me a new website (this one!), some polished deleted scenes that I posted in my romance micro-story anthology, a rough outline of Kevin and Sharla’s story, and now, the beginnings of Western Flame... Oh, and new chapters in an off-Wattpad quasi fantasy-medieval romance I’ve been writing for fun for almost six years. I think it’s terrible, but if I finish it, I’ll polish it and throw it up on Wattpad too.


Holy crap, right?


All this while keeping a full time day job and a home. Whew...


Now, having finished writing Western Connection, I jumped right into Western Flame, riding that wave of continuing the story. I know the characters well, they live in my head. I had the story fresh in my space. I wanted to keep going! Tanner is my favourite brother, and finally getting to his story is making me very happy.


But I’m also a bit tired, looking back at all I have done. I don’t want to spend another summer grinding out chapters. I want to write and write because moving a story along is a joy, not a requirement.


My writing muscles need a break, I guess you could say.


Plans


My husband and I bought a RV trailer this year. Along with our back country camping adventures, we plan to roll North this year for an entire month, hopping along all the Provincial Parks across the top of Lake Superior. We’re going to be working while we do, to minimize having to take lengthy vacation, but for the most part, we plan to do so with the fresh air from the lake blowing through our hair.


As such, I am planning to pause the heavy lifting on my writing career while I am up there. I will write when the mood strikes me, and what I want to write on, not what I have scheduled.


This blog will be on hiatus for the month of August (I’m hoping to have content scheduled for July) and so will my heavy posting schedule on Wattpad. I still have to keep up with certain obligations, like interacting with my readers and social media, of course, but that will be much, much less.


I may post some content from the road, of interesting things we’ve seen. We're going all the way across the top of Lake Superior, so there will be plenty of beautiful ruggedness to share! No promises. One stop is Neys Provincial Park, and it has some really cool history from World War II. You can also check out my Instagram, which will have plenty of trip pictures.


I do promise to finish posting Western Connection. I think my readers might not like it very much if I leave the last few chapters, right? I seriously wish Wattpad had the ability to schedule posts like this blog does. Oof. But never fear, I’ll get them up.


I’m looking forward to my down time very much, to revitalize and refresh my writer brain and my drive. ♥


How about you? Do you take down time? What does that look like?





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