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Vacation is a time relax and leave your work behind, right? Not so fast. If you’re a writer, you’ll always take a piece of your work with you wherever you go. That piece is your brain and it never stops thinking about the next writing project or interesting tidbit to add to a current one. While you shouldn't work on vacation, you also shouldn't ignore what pops into your mind when you're away, since it could pay off big when you get back home. So go ahead, have fun and enjoy your trip, but take along these important writing tools that may come in handy and make your getaway productive too.

A Pen and Notebook

Whether you’re lounging by the pool or travelling the countryside in a bus, a pen and notebook are a must on vacation. You can use them to journal about the scenery, the food you ate last night, your mood, the weather, or anything you care to reflect on. You might brainstorm for topics for your next article or book. Notebooks and pens are also fun for doodling and sketching, both which can usher in all kinds of ideas pertinent to your writing.

A Pocket-sized Notepad

If a journal is too cumbersome, slip a small notepad into your backpack or back pocket. You never know when a thought will strike that you can apply to your writing. A site you're visiting or an activity you're doing might trigger something as simple as how to finish that sentence you've been struggling with for weeks. Never be without a notepad, especially on vacation. A relaxed state of mind can be exactly when your brain does its best work.

Your Phone or Tablet

Did someone on vacation use an interesting expression you’ve never heard before? Would your travel destination make a good setting for a historical novel? Your phone or tablet are not only portable, they’ll give you the means to look up words, do quick research, and even take notes for later use in your writing. Be sure to download any apps that might be of use to your writing life while on vacation, like a note-taking, translation, or dictionary app.

Books to Read

No vacation is complete without a book to read. Reading doesn’t just help pass time while in a car or plane; it’s an excellent writing tool for improving your writing skills. Books are easy to transport, slipped into a carry-on or handbag. Or, bring an e-reader on vacation and take as many books as you’d like. For a list of must reads for writers this summer, check out these ideas.

Your Curiosity

Don’t let your mind go dull on vacation. In fact, travelling is the perfect scenario for igniting your curiosity. Take full advantage of your trip and ask unlimited questions. Curiosity spurs deep thinking and creativity, both which benefit your writing life. Let your curiosity kick into full gear while you're away. It will make the return home that much more productive.

Embrace your summer vacation and enjoy it to the full. Just don’t forget to pack the above writing tools to complete the trip and make it profitable too.

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One of my summer projects is to get started writing a novel. It’s been about eight years since I wrote my last book, so I’ll admit I’m a little rusty. Worse, for me summer isn’t the most ideal time to write, with kids home from school, beautiful days beckoning me outside, and mini-vacations scattered through the months. But I’m determined to at least get started on my book, and so I’ve decided to begin with a notebook.

It’s actually a pretty good-sized notebook, the three-ring kind with lots of tabbed dividers. Putting together this notebook is a project of its own but one I think will pay off in the long run. Here’s what I plan to include in my notebook:

  1. Character profiles, or sketches of my main characters. (For how to write a character profile, check out this article.)
  2. A synopsis, or a short summary of the plot. (Of course, this will likely change, many times.)
  3. A working outline, with a working title.
  4. Early chapter drafts.
  5. Research sources and ideas.
  6. Notes.
  7. A listing of books to read or browse for examples.
  8. A miscellaneous section for extra papers, contacts, etc.
  9. Loose leaf paper.

One thing I’ve learned over the years: Getting started writing a novel (or any book, for that matter) takes time, patience, and focus. A novel notebook is a great way to ease in to the process, especially during the summer months when you may not be ready to plunge into a big project. So far, my notebook has been fun to organize, handy to use, and—above all—motivating. More important, each time I add to my notebook, I feel a sense of accomplishment; I’m one step closer to writing that novel.