When writing is in your blood, don't make the mistake of leaving your writing tool home when you go on vacation.
I recently spent two weeks in Valencia, Spain and on the second day I was scratching my arms at the absence of my own computer. Sure, it's a breathtaking city, home to thousand-year-old buildings and Roman ruins, whose streets are lined with lazy palm trees and outside seating at almost every restaurant, coffee shop, bakery, and bar, but when you have those sparks, those aha moments at midnight, those instances where you figured out how to unravel a scene in the most eloquent way possible, having your main writing tool, the tool you've customized to accommodate your idiosyncrasies perfectly, the tool that holds all the shortcuts and documents to your book's research, whose screen is at the perfect magnification level and font size for every application, the tool you rush to in the middle of the night on a normal day without hesitation and just start writing....take my word for it, even on a family vacation you don't leave home without it.
We go to Spain almost every year to visit my husband's family, and every year I make the same mistake of NOT bringing my own laptop. My husband brings his own for work because he's on-call in his I.T. department and always works at bit at night before going to sleep. We then have an iPad along with the Nintendo DS, two Kindle readers, my iPod for running, my daughter's iPod...you get the picture. I thought to myself just before completing the normal last-minute packing just a few hours before the flight, "I won't have time to write on this vacation, so no need to lug around my 17-inch laptop".
As the saying goes, "it's better to have and not need, than to need and not have." I wish I had remembered this before leaving to Spain. Next year I won't forget.
So what did I do at midnight on day two when I had a delicious idea? I took one of my daughter's notepads (yes, I still have my kids draw and write on actual paper) and I started scribbling away. It was a very frustrating thirty minutes. My hand cramped up as I scratched out sentences and bullet points, and I had arrows pointing to blocks of text everywhere as my mind traveled back and forth chronologically across a story while my hand tried to keep up. I squinted at the illegible output on the paper after thirty minutes of rushed pen marks, tried to read what was written in some sort of order, and closed the notepad with the unsatisfying sense of time wasted. The inefficiency of writing it down with pen and paper was slowing down my thoughts. So, I just sat back and played out the story, the scenes, the details, everything, in my head until I fell asleep. I did this almost every night, and after the first week I was cursing at myself. I tried writing things down again, several times, but I kept forgetting some key thoughts that made me rush to the pen and paper to begin with. It was killing me. So I repeated my ideas over and over to make sure they stick in my head, until I got home to the states and to my wonderful, missing-z-letter-key, sticky-with-soda-spill, crumb-covered, giant 17-inch Dell laptop. (My daughter thinks it's time for an upgrade.)
Why didn't you use your husband's laptop, you ask? For starters, my husband is just a few readings short of blind. His font and resolution on everything is at it's maximum, because he has horrible eyesight, making everything so large even my kids don't use it to watch videos on You Tube. It's also a Linux operating system, so changing screen font, resolution, and other things temporarily to make his laptop usable by the rest of us normal-sighted people is not worth the effort since he has to change everything back for work, and he did work a few hours every night after the kids were put to sleep. That left me with an iPad, with no keyboard, and the writing implements of an eleven-year-old and the pre-tech-revolution world.
I'm a veteran computer programmer, career IT professional, and avid keyboard destroyer...pen and paper just don't cut it for me.