I just got back from my first ever cruise, and it was wonderful. I'm a fairly experienced traveler, and as a result, it was a little slow for my taste. But I fully recognize and embrace the fact that that's the point of a cruise, and I just watched the waves from my balcony with a foreign, lovely sort of calm.
I read a lot (no laptop, so no writing, sadly). I spent a lot of time with my husband and looked at a lot of pictures of our daughter. I swam and sat on lounge chairs and reapplied sunscreen every 90 minutes. The stops were fantastic, the food was decadent, and the nightly shows were amusing (especially the cheesy ones). Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I'm grateful for the experience.
After all of that, let me tell you the ways in which a cruise is just like writing:
-There's room for plotters and pantsers. Love a detailed guide to maximizing your vacation and karaoke skills? You've got it! Don't feel like rearranging your life to fit in the four types of trivia happening in the Explorer's Lounge today? Don't worry about it! That's what the lounge chairs are for. Either way, you can look back at the end of a day and feel it was spent exactly the way it should have been.
-There's a lot of sitting around. You know how sometimes you just stare at your computer and wait for inspiration to hit or for the words to flow or for that stupid fly to just leave you alone, already? Cruises are kind of EXACTLY like that. There can be a bodacious amount of downtime between events. But when the urge hits...
-There's a boatload of stuff to do (pun intended). As soon as night rolled around, it was like all the day's fun was to be crammed into the post-dinner-pre-uber-late-bedtime-time. Broadway-style shows, karaoke, dancing, the milkshake place, movies under the stars, another milkshake...I almost couldn't fit it all in for how quickly the fun was coming at me! Just like writing.
-The best laid plans... No matter how perfectly you prepare for your stop to Puerto Rico (or the first kiss between your main characters), some crazy rainstorm is going to shower down a change of plans on you that you didn't see coming. You have to be able to roll with it, or you'll be one miserable cruiser (or writer).
-The most important thing you can do is just experience it. Just as first drafts are perfect if they simply exist, your cruise is perfect if you simply show up! No one should have crazy expectations of what they want to see and do on a cruise, because cruises aren't meant for the hardcore explorers, just as first drafts aren't meant for your inner editor. Cruises are meant to give you a vacation. First drafts are meant to give you a place to start the actual book. You shouldn't overthink either of them.
What do you think? Any other cruise-writing correlations? Or did I totally do my cruise wrong?! ;)