Gone Fishing

fishingI’m off to spend a couple of days in the mountains, and my Friday advice for becoming the best writer you can be is to make sure you get away sometimes, too.

Take a walk on the beach or a hike through the woods. Go fishing. Get out your bike and put in a few miles.Β Get out in nature.

Do these things regularly. When possible, do them without the company of a friend or family member; without your iPod. Do it without your iPhone beckoning.

Do things that make you feel refreshed. Allow your mind to wander. Carry a small notepad if you like, in case any great ideas come to you.

The “unplugged” time can be the most valuable for allowing the creativity of our minds to flourish. It’s time for the mind to relax and be free, and to bring to the surface things the subconscious might be holding on to.

With everyone being so busy all the time, with the kids and the day job and the commute and the need to get dinner on the table, it can be easy to let this go. We can forget to allow our minds to be free once in awhile. And we might be missing some of our most significant insights or our unique story ideas.

So relax. Go fishing. I promise your computer will still be there when you get back.

What are you doing this summer to relax, refresh, and allow your mind to be free?


Posted in

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Gary on June 12, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Just back from a wilderness BWCA trip of fishing from the canoe…well worth it, have fun.

  2. Catherine Hudson on June 10, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    So true! I’ve had the weekend off too, no kids, no phone.

    Walked around our local beach-side mountain (aka, ‘The mount’) and was stunned again by the beauty of God’s creation.

    Just got back into writing and churned out a scene my book was lacking.

    The quiet helps! Hope you had a lovely time too and feel refreshed.

  3. Cherry Odelberg on June 10, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Walk. A walk is always a necessity to get out the snarls. Piano. Music is also good. Good night, All. It is time to go find peace on eighty-eight keys.

  4. Katie Larink on June 9, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    What great advice! I know that when I am able to get away, I do feel very refreshed, revitalized and have so much more energy to get back to writing when I return.

    Unfortunately, the only break I’ve been able to have from my busy study schedule is to take my daily run/jog/walk. I originally started my daily exercise routine to get in shape — but I soon learned that it was not only good for my body, but for my mind as well. Granted, I do bring my MP3 player along, but that’s the only time I get to spend listening to my music, so I do cherish that.

    I’m also planning on spending some of my summer days hanging out at Lake Michigan during the day and walking the pier while watching the sun set at night. That’s what I call relaxation!

  5. Lena on June 9, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Just reading the things mentioned in this post relaxes my mind :-D. Have a fantastic vacation!

  6. Hilarey on June 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I garden. I can slip outside at any time and ignore everything electronic (if I remember to leave my phone inside.)

  7. Patti Mallett on June 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Hope you have a wonderful time of R&R, Rachelle, and that you have some tasty fish for dinner!! Sometimes life is for simply enjoying!

  8. Addy Rae on June 9, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    I garden! I get muddy and kill my back doing this and that and cuss and hurt, and then I come inside and appreciate the fact that writing my novel only hurts my head. πŸ™‚
    Seriously though, gardening seems to be a wonderful way for me to clear my head.

  9. Ann Bracken on June 9, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Have fun Rachelle, I hope you don’t get hooked!

    In order to unwind I like to 1) garden, 2) sit on the new porch with my hubby and kindle, 3) watch the snow melt off the mountains, 4) write, and 5) rock my grandson while reading him a book.

  10. Peter DeHaan on June 8, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    During my last retreat I left all the gadgets and electronics behind, but half way through I has inspired to write. And write I did.

    When I last wrote in longhand, it was in the pre-computer days. Plus, my penmanship is lousy at best.

    It would later take me hours to transcribe my work. Next time the laptop will come with me!

    • Cherry Odelberg on June 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      I have spent many happy hours writing by dwindling sunlight. Pages and pages of journal and inspiration in a spiral notebook with an old fashioned pencil. Great mental, emotional and spiritual therapy. Then, after a few days of camping, I am heartily ready for my bathtub, laptop and internet.

  11. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on June 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    My wife and I run a sanctuary for unwanted Pit Bulls, so getting away really isn’t an option. They (all 26 of them!) miss us so much when we’re gone!

    Best I can do is a day trip to Lubbock, to deliver some airplane parts. And I have a have an ‘author event’ tomorrow – a talk to kids of deployed National Guard parents, on how they can express their feelings through writing.

    Really, we’ve learned the “15 minute vacation” – watching part of a movie, reading, working in the yard. We’ve found that you don’t need much of a getaway. Just a quick refocus can be awfully refreshing.

  12. Josh C. on June 8, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Well, I had my house underpinned and leveled for $20,000 (can I get a refresher course on advances?), put a new roof on with a buddy’s help, repairing cracks from the house leveling inside and out and painting, scrapping the old flower bed and making a new one, re-squaring the back door, re-tiling the bathroom floor and walls, putting together a swingset for my daughter, having a tree cut down, and smashing up my old driveway to put down a new one. Where’s Yard, Bath, or Kitchen Crashers when I need ’em?

  13. Kathryn Elliott on June 8, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Garden, garden and more garden. Dirt relaxes me. πŸ™‚ Happy Summer Everyone!

  14. Janet Bettag on June 8, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    If I don’t get some of that sweet R&R soon, my brain’s going to shut down. I can hardly wait until my first day of retirement. I can’t keep up this pace much longer.

  15. Jessica Nelson on June 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The kids and I go to the river. They swim and I read. πŸ™‚ I also enjoy my runs because I can blast the music and “escape” for twenty minutes. Enjoy your break!

  16. K.L. Parry on June 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Right on, Rachelle!

  17. David Todd on June 8, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    This weekend I’m picking blackberries. I’ve picked close to a 1/2 gallon just on the bushes along the road near our house. Saturday I plan to go to the mother of all blackberry patches, about a mile and a half away on unused school district property, and hopefully pick a couple of gallons and freeze them.

  18. Anna Labno on June 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Hi all,

    I go to the waterparks with my children when I have a weekend off. But when I do have more days of vacations, I visit national parks. For the last few years, we have been visiting natural preserved areas. This year, we went to Great Smoky Mountains. I’m not sure where we heading in the summer yet.

  19. Brianna on June 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I am going to Lake Tahoe (Northern Nevada) to celebrate my 30th birthday with my best friends. I am so excited to disconnect, lay on the beach, eat good food, and just be. No computer, hardly any phone, no tv.

  20. Karen on June 8, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Fishing is one of the best ways to mentally disconnect for me too. My husband and I are doing just that on Sunday, but out in the Gulf of Mexico, off Panama City, Florida. It’s red snapper season. I hope we’ll have good weather and “catch us a mess of snappah!”

    The iPad and computer are definitely staying at the hotel.

  21. Lynn Rush on June 8, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    So true. It’s really important to unplug once in a while. This summer I’m trying something that kind of freaks me out to tell you the truth.

    Ragbrai. It’s a bike ride (as in pedal, not vroom) across IOWA! Yikes. Long story short: My dad, hubby, & step-mom were going to do this to raise money for cancer for my MIL who died in October. BUT, my step-mom got diagnosed with cancer May 10th! Tumor left her immobile, so I’m stepping in for her!

    The biking part doesn’t scare me, the camping part does. But you know what? It’s a chance to unplug, do a bunch of bike riding, which I love, and raise money for a good cause (we met our goal already!!).

    And, that’s NINE days unplugged from a computer, phone, etc. I’m ready for that. πŸ™‚

    I bet lots of story ideas will pop up on that 350 mile bike ride!!

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      That is awesome that you’re raising money for cancer, Lynn! Thank you for doing that!
      Word of advice- If you can pack one, take at backpack blow up mattress. The back you save may be your own!

  22. Jeanne on June 8, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Great thoughts, Rachelle. Most of my relaxing is done with kids in tow, but they are fun to be with. One weekend each summer, my husband and I get away to the mountains and enjoy being just the two of us. This summer, we’re planning to road trip around the mid-west, see places we haven’t seen yet (including Mt. Rushmore), and visit friends. We’ll take hiking trips as a family, and I’ll take lots of pictures.

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      That sounds like fun, Jeanne. I love the Black Hills!

      • Jeanne T on June 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        Thanks, PJ. I’ve lived within a day’s drive and never been. Sigh. The kids are very excited. Once I get us all packed, I’ll join in the excitment. πŸ™‚

  23. Cristy Fossum on June 8, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Ah, yes, Rachelle, and have a wonderful time. One writing day when nothing would come I released myself (after an agonizing hour)for refreshment. Wise indeed. The title of my blog afterward was “Gone Zooing.”

  24. Adam Porter (@AtlasProWriter) on June 8, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    “The β€œunplugged” time can be the most valuable for allowing the creativity of our minds to flourish. It’s time for the mind to relax and be free, and to bring to the surface things the subconscious might be holding on to.”

    This is tremendous advice. It’s a constant struggle for me, as a travel writer, to get out and have fun without being “on the job.” Every new destination is a potential story and every favorite place that I haven’t written about can be as well.

    So, that is when I follow the other advice you gave. I leave everything but my camera and notepad at home…and just take time to breathe.

  25. Stephen H. King on June 8, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Enjoy your time off in the mountains, Rachelle. I find vacations with the kids, where nearly every waking moment I am seemingly assailed with yet another way to spend more money, to often be as un-unwinding as work, and sometimes even more so.

    What do I do to relax, refresh, etc.? What I’m doing right now. Sit, think, write–sometimes even in that order. The only differences between this and my ideal vacation are a) setting (my living room contains neither babbling mountain stream nor soothingly repetitious symphony of ocean waves and sand up my–um, keyboard), and b) a pressing need to now get up, put on something other than my pajamas, and head in to work for the day.

    Y’all have a great weekend, whatever you end up doing.


    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      <– fellow beach boy sounding off. I grew up on Navy bases and was always near an ocean. Every vacation trip is to a beach! (last 5- VA Beach, Gulf Shores, Ft. Lauderdale, Bahamas, and St. Croix.) Of course, not being able to sell my other house means the next vacation will be spent in the backyard hammock. πŸ˜›

  26. Wendy Paine Miller on June 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Things that make you say Ahhhh.

    Enjoy your time in the outdoors!

    Meeting up w/ my sisters on the Maryland coast to celebrate our mom’s 70th b-day with her.

    ~ Wendy

  27. Sarah Thomas on June 8, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Twice daily dog walks, bubble baths and sipping wine on the porch with my husband. For a longer escape, I can always go to the family farm in WV. It was better before Dad got Internet up there.

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      I love that comment- “It was better before dad got internet up there.” That crazy internet is always whining at the door, isn’t it?

  28. Sara Suderman on June 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    My in-laws have several acres halfway between Dallas and Houston. We’ve spent the past two weekends “in the country.” The view of the sunsets off their back porch is awesome – reminds me that God really is running the show.

  29. Leanne Fournier on June 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    I have finally replanted a garden after a few years of feeling it just wasn’t worth it. It is worth it and I find tending my plants relaxing and refreshing. I also will be gone fishing at my “unplugged” cabin in the woods along with paddling, hiking and family time. I sit quietly with my notebook and am inspired everywhere I look.

  30. Sue Harrison on June 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    My get-away joys are writing, walking and gardening and music. They help me escape the daily difficulties of multiple parent care responsibilities.

  31. Julie Garmon on June 8, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    So true! And usually the last thing I do as a type-A writer.

    Thanks for the reminder. Will take a good long walk in the woods today.

  32. Julie Sunne on June 8, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    We are getting away from it all as a family to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area at the boundary between Minnesota and Canada. Going where no cell phone signals can reach, where we tuck our watches away, carry in all supplies, and just enjoy living–with no distractions. Can’t wait! I can feel my creative juices being stirred already!
    Have fun on your get-away, Rachelle. It sounds heavenly!

    • Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      Don’t forget the bug spray! Hello black flies.

  33. Kathleen Heady on June 8, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Spending time with my daughter and grandson in North Carolina. There is nothing like time with a five year old to free your mind!

  34. Otin on June 8, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    To help me relax this summer I will be trying to get my cholesterol score down from 255 and also taking Prozac to enhance my mood. Lol…well, you asked!

  35. Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    All I need to relax is a nearly dead antique, my power and hand tools, oh, and my particle/vapour exchange mask. I know! AWESOME!
    Ahhhh, the feel of my random orbital sander on a horribly scarred piece of bird’s eye maple or tiger oak…pure heaven!!!

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      That’s cool, Jennifer! The idea of relaxing and useful is always a great combination.

      • Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        It’s like, Zen, man. Of course, with a hi-tech vapour mask, it won’t be so Zenlike anymore, cuz I won’t get, umm, stoned on chemicals.

        • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 5:39 PM

          Oh that pesky paint-stripper buzz. When I restored a Victorian home a while back, I couldn’t open the windows due to temperature requirements. I scraped myself off the ten foot ceiling many times. It was after that I began to contemplate writing. Hmmm

          Oh and I hope you noticed the tremendous restraint I displayed at your sniffing chemicals? πŸ˜€

          • Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 5:53 PM

            Yes. Yes I did notice your *restraint*. Aren’t you special? You are practically not even commenting, you’re so restrained. I do rememeber one choir practice last year when I swear I sang bass, I was SO looped. Thus, the investment in a vapour mask. I think there’s even a sticker on it that promises fewer dead brain cells than any other mask!

            I sure would love to see pictures of that house. Before and after shots, just like Bob Vila.

        • Ann Bracken on June 9, 2012 at 12:05 AM

          LOL! Come work with me, my lab is always full of interesting smells. Of course, if you get stoned, they’ll wonder if you’re doing your own clinical evaluation on the new drugs…

    • Cherry Odelberg on June 10, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      I think some people got a bit off subject here.

  36. Sherrie on June 8, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    Just don’t get lost in the woods! I grew up in Upstate new York and believe it or not, there are (or at least were) woods so deep that we sometimes lost our way. My brother, being the oldest, had to find the way out. We would have to be very quiet so we could hear if a car went by and then hope we were heading in the direction where we heard the car. It was crazy.
    Now I have my own little piece of heaven in my back yard. When we moved here in ’07, there was one, little lemon tree. Now, there are about 6 descent sized trees and tons of plants, including Lilies of the Nile that get bigger and more every year. They are so pretty in that ONE month that they all bloom!
    My niece and her two daughters are coming in 2 1/2 weeks and luckily they should be in full bloom right about then!
    I also have my little vegie garden that will have a hundred or so tomatoes in a few weeks too! Gardening is so much fun!

  37. Gabrielle Meyer on June 8, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    We bought a new house last year on the banks of the Mississippi River and I feel blessed to be able to walk out my door any time of day and find rest in my back yard – even during the craziness of raising four kiddos. My hubby and I just unwound on the back deck. We watched the lightening bugs float by on the breeze and listened to the rippling water rush past.

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:28 AM

      Sweet! That sounds picturesque!

    • Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 7:28 AM

      Now that the June bugs are gone, I’ll go outside at night again.

    • Jeanne on June 8, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      You get to watch lightning bugs? I won’t be jealous. πŸ™‚ Sounds very relaxing. Hope your transition to your new place is smooth.

  38. Sue on June 8, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    I am in a new city and on Wed I joined a group of moms for a weekly bike ride through this awesome park. Once you drop down into the park you would never know you are near a city. Talk about good for the soul!

  39. BK Jackson (@BKJacksonAZ) on June 8, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    Having lost 30 lbs. in the last 12 weeks with a bit more to go, I’m looking forward to getting hiking fit to enjoy this beautiful state of mine.

    I’ve greatly missed the restorative power of Arizona’s trails, parks and wonders.

  40. Beth K. Vogt on June 8, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    I’ve taken to going for not one, but two walks a day: one early in the morning and then one later in the evening. Both are ideal times to be out and about in Colorado. And now with workers putting siding up on the house, I’m sometimes tempted to go for a third walk!
    Thanks for the reminder to take a break.

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:26 AM

      When they sided my house, they showed up a day early and knocked all the Precious Moments off the wall. Many porcelain children lost their heads that day! :-O
      I feel your pain!

      • Beth K. Vogt on June 8, 2012 at 2:37 AM

        I learned quickly to take all the photos off the walls & the stuff off the mantle.

      • Jennifer Major on June 8, 2012 at 7:27 AM

        Oh, someone’s Mrs must have been furious!

  41. Tyler H on June 8, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    I have a brand new baby…so…perfect for relaxation, right?

    • Beth K. Vogt on June 8, 2012 at 1:57 AM

      Congratulations, Tyler! πŸ™‚

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:23 AM

      Way cool! Congratulations!

    • Sue Harrison on June 8, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      Yep, the best way to relax. A baby in your arms when you’re taking a quick snooze! Congrats~

    • Jeanne on June 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Congratulations, Tyler. Those are special days.

    • Tyler H on June 8, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      I was just going for a cheap joke, but thanks everyone πŸ™‚

  42. P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Writing is my hobby to unwind from pastoring. πŸ˜›

    To unwind, I walk every night in my small Kansas town. Coyotes howl just over the hill in a wonderful chorus of wild remembrances. The cell service is horrible this far out, so no one tries to call. It’s just Wile E., his family, and me.
    (Did I mention I carry pepper spray when I unwind?)

    • P. J. Casselman on June 8, 2012 at 2:30 AM

      Oh and Happy Birthday to Cherry Ann Odelberg!

      • Cherry Odelberg on June 10, 2012 at 12:14 AM

        How nice that you remembered me! Just for that, I should write you into my novel.

    • Stephen H. King on June 8, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      I think pepper spray and unwinding might be somewhat incompatible–for some of us, anyways. πŸ™‚

      I, too, find writing to BE my getaway, though.

    • Patti Mallett on June 9, 2012 at 8:05 AM

      Your walk sounds wonderful – brings back memories of my nightly dog walks for 6 wks. @ Topsail Beach. A friendly police officer said a gater had been spotted across the inlet. As long as the neighboring dog (who lived right on the inlet) was in her usual spot, I figured we were safe. :-] (It adds to the intrigue. Right?)

  43. Cheryl Barker on June 8, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    I’ve been going outside and trying to capture some good nature photos the past couple of months. Not a lot of variety in my yard so I’ve been taking shots of birds mostly. I’ve even begun to recognize a few of their songs. I love the time outdoors, and it’s been fun to find another creative outlet.

    • Patti Mallett on June 9, 2012 at 7:58 AM

      I love my camera, too, Cheryl. Yesterday I realized that I’ve begun to think of it as a friend. Glad to hear you’ve discovered this pleasure, too! (Three hummingbirds came to the feeder yesterday while I was snapping shots of dappled sunlight and I forgot all about picture-taking and just stared in awe.)

  44. Nick Thacker on June 8, 2012 at 12:28 AM


    Where are you fishing? I recently moved to Colorado (LOTS of great fishing here!).

    Anyway, thanks for the post, and the reminder to “just go fishing every now and then!

    Good luck–