By Travis Willmore
Remember how it feels coming back to school after a break between terms and having to bang a couple of unresponsive neurons together in hopes of producing just one coherent thought? After a long, hard slog through ten weeks of academic edification, the tendency is to tune out, turn off and try to make your brief glimpse of freedom as mentally unchallenging as possible. So a little after-vacation rustiness of the brain is extremely common.
While it’s good to decompress after a stressful term, there’s no reason your writing skills have to atrophy, and writing while you’re on vacation (“The very idea!”) doesn’t have to feel like work. After all, you’re not having to fulfill the requirements of any assignment, you’re not having to create an effective thesis statement or make sure your sources are cited effectively—you can just write about whatever you feel like writing about. This is its own kind of mental vacation.
And it can be valuable later. You’re not going to have crystal clear memories of everything that happened over spring break months after the fact—especially if you have the kind of spring breaks and the kind of memory that I do. Many people, myself included, tend to do a lot of writing in situations where they have to—and don’t make much time for it when they’re just out there living. If you write things down at the end of a long day of windsurfing or line-dancing or keg-standing or whatever your spring break entails, then you’ll have a record of some memorable times in your life (which will now be easier to remember further down the road). Not only that, you’ll have positive mental associations when you think about writing. It won’t seem so damn punitive, and when you come back for another long, hard slog of educational enlightenment…lo and behold, you’ll find that you aren’t all rusty with writing, and the onslaught of more writing assignments won’t seem so daunting anymore.