So if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you would know that I recently went away to New Zealand for ten days, visiting Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin and Fiordland (including Milford Sound).
Something that really impressed upon me was just how much of a difference this holiday has made to me personally. It was my first true holiday in about three years. You see, I was of the opinion that a holiday is not really all that necessary. Like, it can be a bit of fun, but you’re better off saving the money. To be entirely honest, I’m still partially of that opinion, but I do believe that you need a decent length break from life every once in a while.
It doesn’t have to be a cruise, or a visit to another country, but it does have to be something that is outside of your ordinary life. Now obviously this kind of a break can affect people in different ways, but I noticed the effect a lot more once I got back home.
First, I rediscovered a large portion of my creative motivation. It is easy to stagnate creatively when your life feels stagnant physically. A change of scenery for a time can be enough to reboot that part of your life. I found that seeing new and wonderful places made me inspired to write about them. When I was inspired in that manner, I found it easy to channel that motivation into the previous aspects of my writing.
To give you an idea of how big this was, I wrote something in the range of fifteen thousand words over the course of that ten-day cruise. I finished numerous maps for my novel, as well as working on a database of all the planets, solar systems and civilisations that are present within my science fiction universe.
Now, you might think that I’m crazy for doing so much work when I had time off, but there are several considerations that might explain my writing. New Zealand was great, but there wasn’t much to actually DO on the cruise ship while it was heading there or back. Sure, the cruise puts on plenty of events (which I’ll admit, are good fun), but I’m only interested in perhaps half of those on a given day. So the rest of my time, just about, I devoted to writing.
Second, being on a cruise means that everything is done for you, just about. People take care of your rooms, your food, your meals your table service, and virtually all of your entertainment. There is very little that you need to do yourself on a cruise, save for booking shore excursions and the cruise itself. This is a lot of stress off your plate (regardless of how much house work you actually do), and for me, having people that I didn’t know doing all of that for me makes me appreciate others even more.
I feel compelled to do more of that. Sure, it can be hard to get back into any kind of routine (even of taking your dirty dishes to the dishwasher), but these tasks are now a little more salient to my mind.
Third, being on a cruise allowed me to expand my horizons more generally. I had not anticipated that New Zealand would be so different from Australia. I had often thought of as being much like Australia, but slightly different. In a sense, that perhaps is true. What I noticed the most was in the fine details. The fact that so many people spoke with a Kiwi accent. The fact that there were smatterings of Maori language here and there. The plants are entirely different, though some of the weeds are the same. The Lord of the Rings is like a national epic.
It was a great place to visit. It made me realise just how broad the world is generally. Sure, I’ve been overseas before, but I came to the realisation that you don’t have to visit Europe to visit a place that can be alien. I could visit Adelaide and find a place that’s very different to Sydney. Furthermore, it was fascinating to meet so many different people on the cruise.
The most important thing, perhaps, is that it gave me time to think and reflect on life itself. One of the best ways to gain good perspective on something is to step outside of it. It is very difficult to properly analyse something from the inside. Looking at your life from arm’s length can help you to make a lot of important decisions, as it has for me.
I’ve expanded my writing ambitions, I’ve made new commitments to exercise and fitness (for the umpteenth time) and I’m doing my best to approach life with positivity and joy. Most importantly, a holiday has to do with remembering to enjoy life. Returning home should not be considered sad, but rather a joyous opportunity to apply what you’ve learned on your holiday to your regular life.
Because life should be a celebration.