I was on vacation 2 weeks ago. We tried something new, we went toCity, Michigan where we purchased a package which included a lighthouse tour, a trip to two historic sites, one in Mackinac City, Colonial Michilimackinac (try saying that 5 times fast, or even once for that matter) which represented the fort during its American Revolutionary war era of the 1770’s and earlier and the reconstructed Fort Mackinac on the, more defensible, Mackinac Island which represented life from the 1860’s and later. We also spent a lot of time hiking around the island and parks in the area.
One of the facts that the re-enactors pointed out about the life of fur traders at Colonial Michilimackinac is that they made a journey of about 3000 miles from Montreal to Fort Mackinac paddling 16+ hours a day, with few breaks each day, for 3 months. In some areas they had to carry 90lb bales of fur using a contraption that supported the bale with a strap secured around your forehead to keep the furs out of water during periods where rapids might capsize the canoe. It was a hard life for these men who had little time for anything other than paddling, sleep, a little rum, salted meat and biscuits and the occasional smoke of the pipe during the short breaks they took.
Even the soldiers and craftsmen who lived in the fort had to perform the many time-consuming, hard chores for simple survival. For example: To keep one fireplace burning in one home or craftsman’s shop required more than 15 cords of firewood to burn for warmth during the winter. This is per STOVE. And the entire area surrounding the fort was clear cut of wood up to 15 miles away. They had to harvest wood from the Upper Peninsula which had to be cut, transported to the fort and then split and stacked. And anyone who has ever burned firewood for heat can appreciate the labor-intensive process. Chopping firewood even with modern conveniences such as chainsaws and log-splitters takes a considerable amount of time, and this is only one aspect of survival the colonials had to deal with in daily life.
Just the basic tasks of living, cooking, cleaning, harvesting, and building around in the early 1900’s were extremely time consuming, and make me ashamed of the days where I say I have no time to write.
This being said, travelling with 5 kids in 2 hotel rooms and coordinating meals, activities, etc. I found no time to write during the course of the week. The irony of this was not lost on me, and made me think about productivity and the excuses we tell ourselves about not getting the work done.
Modern life and work saving methods allow us to have the time to write, yet it also provides distractions that sidetrack us from our work. Instead of writing, I was wrapping up the final episodes of my binge viewing of Lost, by watching 2 or 3 of them a day when we had time at the end of the evening after settling the kids into bed. I could have been and should have been writing. Yet, I chose otherwise. Just as I had many times over the last 6 weeks of my Lost marathon. I watched 6 years worth (120 episodes of it at 43 minutes each) of TV during that time. Yes, it’s true that, as a writer, you do need time to relax, but you also need discipline to say no to the modern distractions of insidious services such as Netflix, which can give you almost unlimited access to media you might not have watched during the initial run on TV and then forgot about it (and never missed it).
I made a choice about my free time. I enjoyed what I did. But I also didn’t write any blog posts. Draft any content for my book or even read the two file folders packed with research for the book that I brought along with me on vacation to read. It wouldn’t have been much of a sacrifice to delay gratification and “work” a little. Just spending 30 minutes a day devoted to writing would have made an enjoyable vacation even more enjoyable because I could relax with the knowledge that I was making progress on the book. I don’t have an answer to breaking these bad habits. I am weak when it comes to making myself sit down and do the work even in the most ideal of circumstances. I just have to keep trying.
What do you do to get your butt in the chair and writing? Any foolproof methods that work for you every time? Let me know in the comments below.