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Cheryl's Musings

Cheryl's Musings: August 2010

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Planning for re-entry

IMG_0927 A wise woman recently suggested that when I plan a vacation, I also plan for how I’m going to weather those first few stressful days after we arrive back in the real world—you know, those days when the house is trashed, the kids suddenly need a million doctor appointments and shopping runs to prepare for school, and everyone you’ve ever worked with wants to speak with you at the same time. How do you prepare for the stress and chaos?

I didn’t manage to make this re-entry plan before setting out on my trip, but it’s been on my mind ever since. Little by little, a plan is taking shape. I thought I’d share my ideas with you—and let you know how things turn out when I get back next week.

Strategy 1: Stepwise Re-entry

Instead of returning to everything at once, I’m going to reenter my “normal” world one area at a time. For instance:

Day 1: Deal with unpacking, laundry, and other details of moving back into a house…WITHOUT giving in to the urge to check and answer emails, sort mail, prioritize projects, and so on.

Day 2: First pass through email, mail, and other “In boxes”. Reveal my return to work colleagues :). Update my list of current projects and decide what’s top of the list.

Strategy 2: Pick Top Projects/Priorities

I have a tendency to try to tackle every important and urgent item simultaneously—a tendency that seriously backfires when I’ve been on a break, because suddenly EVERYTHING is important and urgent. My goal here is to trust that the world will not end if I mail out a query a week later than planned.

Strategy 3: Have a House Meeting

My husband and I try to have weekly house meetings, kinda like the staff meeting in a business. It gives us a chance to take care of administrivia, share schedules for the upcoming week, and catch conflicts before they become a problem. It’s also a time for discussing everything from what movies we want to see to how to tackle the latest parenting dilemma to what kind of car best suits the family’s needs.

A regular house meeting gets the two of us working in the same direction, toward the same goals.

These meetings are most important when life gets crazy-busy, which is also when we’re most likely to skip them—but this time, I’m making sure a meeting gets on our schedule!

Strategy 4: Plan Breaks and Rewards

My overall goal here is to avoid post-vacation burnout (or catatonia). Reducing the amount of work I tackle each day (above) will help; it will also help to plan a few no-work zones into the days. Here’s what I’m going to try: no work after 9:00 pm, at which point I may indulge in a book, piece of chocolate, or glass of wine. Or maybe all three.

Strategy 5: Anticipate Setbacks

This isn’t a strategy specific to vacation re-entry, but it’s one I need to remember. If I anticipate setbacks, it’s easier to deal with them and move on. Things won’t go perfectly. Transitions are always tricky, in writing and in life. But we’ll get through.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

:) Cheryl

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The morning after…

IMG_0934 The morning after the Eastern Traditional Archery Festival, the staff (and supporting kids and sisters) all gathered to eat piles of pancakes and share stories of the weekend…

…stories of the guy who towed his dog around in a garden cart, because it had recently had back surgery and there was no one home to take care of it, so rather than skip the festival he brought the dog along. Of course, the dog threatened to bite everyone who came within ten feet of him…

…stories of the guys who were going to jump the guard rail and climb down the bank to avoid paying the entry fee, and how the other people walking to the gate stopped them…

…of my brother reading what must have been a prank name entry in the end-of-show door prize drawings…


…of the group—the ??? Society—that gathered around midnight every night to chant and yell goofy slogans…

…of the tornado that touched down only a few miles away from where 500+ campsites were set up all over the ski resort grounds…


P2161109The point is that the best stories come out when you gather a group of people together like this, all of them exhausted from the event, pumped up on shared work and experience. It’s a special kind of storytelling that happens only in the aftermath of some challenge, whether it’s camp, a cross-country drive, or putting on a major archery festival.

I like it—and yep, I took copious notes :). (Names will be changed to protect the not-so-innocent….)

:) Cheryl

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