How can you work on your work ethic if you aren’t actually working?

by Becky Clark, Free Range Chick 

I recently took a vacation. You know how that goes. You scramble ahead of time to pay any bills that might come due while you’re gone. Make sure you have enough dog food and treats. Wash the sheets for your dog-slash-housesitters, in this case, two different people, two different guest rooms. Have enough food for them, but not too much since you don’t know them well enough to know everything they eat. Fill the liquor cabinet, since you know them well enough. Type out instructions…so many instructions. Clean the house a little bit. Do a ton of laundry. Try on all your clothes to see what fits and what looks good together since it’s been awhile you’ve had to wear real-people clothes. Pack. Try to remember if your daughter, who you’ll be staying with for a few days, owns a hair dryer. Decide if you’ll be doing any writing and if so, what you’ll work on. What will entertain you on the plane? Books or magazines? Obsess over all the confirmation paperwork for flights, hotels, and rental cars.

You have a lovely time.

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Then you return home.

You have so many emails you wish, in fact, for catatonia. The mail. The newspapers. The fetid mountain of laundry. Your skin is weird. You ate your weight in clam chowder that you were promised had no calories but your jeans tell you differently. You plan an austerity menu and load up on jean-friendly groceries, but your diet muscle is flabby. After all, for the last two weeks people brought you whatever your little heart desired without conspicuous judgment. It feels dangerous and unwise to start eating healthy all at once. You didn’t do any of the work you brought with you. You not only didn’t read the books you packed, you bought a bunch more while you were there. Your neck hurts, your back hurts. That blister you didn’t know you got because your foot is numb? That hurts too, but only to look at.

You power through. In a day-and-a-half you’ve dealt with all of it. Except the weight gain.

You get back to work. But your work muscle is flabby. That series synopsis your agent is waiting for isn’t quite as polished as you want so you take an hour to give it a spit shine. But it takes you the rest of the afternoon. Okay, fine. But now it’s done and you can move on to your 30-page book outline/synopsis. You know it needs a bit of work so you block off the next day to run through it. But it takes you three days, many extra carbs, and a trail of expletives that would double Quentin Tarantino’s vocabulary.

No? Just me?

I’ll go all Braggy McBraggy here and tell you that I have an excellent memory. But why-oh-why can’t I remember that this flabbiness happens with great regularity every time I leave home, whether for a weekend or a month?

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Becky Clark writes full-time and is the author of the humorous Mystery Writer’s Mysteries. FICTION CAN BE MURDER is available wherever fine books are sold and FOUL PLAY ON WORDS is available for pre-order. She’s a proud member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Colorado Author’s League. She shares space with the aforementioned practically perfect in every way husband, and Nala the Wonder Dog. The wonder, of course, is “how in the world can she lose so much hair every day?”

22 thoughts on “How can you work on your work ethic if you aren’t actually working?

  1. That’s the problem with taking vacations. Unfortunately, staying home doesn’t necessarily make things any easier. I can attest you don’t have to go on vacation for your work (and other) muscles to get flabby. Three days for edits that were expected to take a few hours is fairly typical for some of us!

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  2. “It feels dangerous and unwise to start eating healthy all at once.” This is wisdom, Becky! Always better to slowly ease out of vacation mode. And congrats on finishing every writer’s bane — the synopsis!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Becky, your post was a lifesaver for me today! Seriously. I just got back from Crime Bake, which is a very short conference, and 5 days later I’m still stumbling around. And guess what I’m struggling with? A synopsis! (Though mine is not 30 pages. Yet.) I am also steeling myself against jeans-unfriendly food, which is a) everything in my house and 2) hard when you have writing to do. But those conference photos did not lie. Aargh!!!

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    1. I kinda sorta got back in a routine but just got back from the airport, picking up my Navy boy, home for 10 days. And we just made the menu/grocery list for the duration. Back to stretchy pants for a while…..

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  4. I’ve stopped even pretending that I’m going to do any work while I’m on vacation–which saves space in my luggage for all the books and exotic food I’ll buy to bring home.

    Great post, Becky, and can’t wait to find out what your new series is going to be about!

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  5. Love this post, and this is my new favorite saying: “It feels dangerous and unwise to start eating healthy all at once.” Also this: “it’s been awhile you’ve had to wear real-people clothes.”

    You so totally GET us all. 😀

    Very happy you had a lovely vacation!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m with you! We’ve been back for a month, and my care-o-meter is still dialed way (waaaaaaaay) down.

    As for work whilst traveling, I’ve decided that my laptop likes getaways, too, as long as I don’t make it do anything.

    Glad you had a marvelous trip!

    Liked by 2 people

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