Thought of the Day: The View From My Hotel Room

This is less of a thought than a photo—although I did think, when I took this photo, that DC is still one of the most architecturally interesting cities out there. Gorgeous buildings in so many different styles, and no skyscrapers because of the Height of Buildings Act in 1910, so you can always see the sky.

I used to live in DC—very near this hotel, in fact—and one of the reasons I wanted to live here was because of views like this. ❤️

I’m Not In This for the Travel

I wanted to share Kristin Sanders’ LitHub essay Some Reasons to Become a Literary Digital Nomad (Even If You Fail) first because it’s a great piece, and second because—well, if you’ve been on the freelancing blogs and/or the financial independence blogs, you’ll learn that a lot of people are very, very excited about the promise of travel.

Once you can work from anywhere and/or don’t have to work, the promise promises us, you’ll be able to see the world.

Sometimes that kind of thing works out, as Em Burfitt learned in her recent guest post:

I got to work in Paris, staying in an Airbnb I rented from money I’d saved up. From writing. Not working hours and hours of shifts to make ends meet but from writing. Two years ago, I never would have believed I could earn enough to live by writing for only five hours a day. Let alone doing so from my favourite city in the world.

Sometimes it’s more complicated than you realized, as Laura Leavitt explained in another recent guest post:

While I cannot always stay in a hotel or a separate space from family, it made me realize that if I want to get work done while I’m on a trip, I need my own space. Ideally, this space needs to be completely separate from the family gathering, so I don’t feel like I’m making the whole event “less fun” by sneaking away to work on my laptop.

And sometimes you get Kristin Sanders’ experience:

You think you’re going to do this because all of the writers you love have done this, the older dead writers, not the living writers; most of the living writers seem to stay in one place for whole decades of their lives, as if writing takes something like concentration or routine, but who are you to say?

When I read that paragraph, I think “how wonderful would it be to stay in one place for an entire decade?” It’s something I haven’t tried since childhood, and when I think about that—and everywhere I’ve lived since then—it becomes clear that that the real reason I’m not interested in the travel promise is because I’ve already done my share of traveling.

When I was in theater grad school, for example, our program required each of us to spend a semester doing something “practical” (to prove we had the skills to do it), which is how I ended up teaching Shakespeare at the University of Hyderabad and then backpacking across India.

When I was trying to make it as an indie musician while also earning money on the side writing for content sites, I learned how to file copy from bus stations and comic conventions and hotel rooms and friends’ couches.

Now I measure my life in how long I can go without having to travel somewhere.

I still want to visit new places, now and again, and am using my “visit every Disney park in the world” as a template for how I might spend the next three years—because no, I’m not just going to go to Tokyo just for the theme park, I’m going to make sure I stay long enough to see the city as well.

But I also think about how damned lucky I am that I picked a grad school that sent me to Hyderabad for a semester, and then got an executive assistant job that had me assisting executives in Bangkok and Shrivenham, and then spent a couple of years doing the comic convention circuit as an indie musician because WHAT HAS MY LIFE EVEN BEEN, HOW DID IT HAPPEN THIS WAY?

So I’m not in the freelancing thing—or the FI thing—for the promise of travel.

I’m in it for the promise of being able to sit in a room of my own, the same room for days and weeks and months and years in a row, and know that I have everything I need to do my work.

And then to be able to leave that room and be part of a community. ❤️

How to Work Creatively on Family Trips and Vacations

Laura Leavitt is a writer, editor, and teacher in Ohio; she has a pet gecko and likes a good game of Ultimate Frisbee on occasion.

When I went full-time freelance, I assumed that one of the benefits of freelancing would be the ability to spend more time visiting extended family and friends, since I could just “work from wherever.” In reality, working while simultaneously visiting family is… more complicated than I thought.

I’ve heard great things about working while traveling and living that digital nomad life, but it hasn’t worked out so well for my own trips and vacations. I’ve had to figure out when to fit work in and when to just take the day off, even if it hurts my payday. A lot of this effort has to do with figuring out my rhythms, so it may not be the same for you as a creative worker, but finding your own rhythms is probably a skill that you’ll be able to put into practice as well.

Experiment 1: Staying with family and working

My first effort involved visiting my in-laws for a four-day trip, assuming I’d find time to work. I was wildly unrealistic, telling myself, I’ll be able to wake up at 6 a.m., work for two or three hours, and then join the rest of the family for a long and exciting day of family togetherness.

There are many reasons why this didn’t work:

  • This family stays up late. I failed to account for the fact that I’d have to peace out to sleep before the card games and campfire stories really got going. I don’t need to shut the party down every night, but I also didn’t want to be the person who left early to go to bed; it looks too much like I’m sick or unhappy or something.
  • I don’t really want to get up before 6 a.m. and make coffee and start working instantly; I don’t even do this at home. I have managed it a couple of times while traveling (including on this trip) because of deadlines that I couldn’t change, but it wasn’t a smart move. It certainly didn’t help me get into a creative groove.
  • Even if I did wake up early, I wouldn’t get that much quiet time before the rest of the household got up; this family somehow wakes between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. even after a big night, so I would have very little private time for writing even if I stuck to my schedule. 
  • By making these unrealistic demands on my time, I got impatient and frustrated with every aspect of the rest of the day. This was arguably the worst result: when my family took understandable amounts of time to decide what to do, or ended up lazing around for an afternoon rather than making an ambitious plan, I couldn’t enjoy it with them because I felt “behind” in my work, and all I wanted to do was find a corner where I could work in peace. This was an awful feeling and made me feel like a workaholic… which I was being.

I resolved to do better, but I also accepted a truth for these kinds of trips: I can wake up 30 minutes early or whatever amount of time I need to finish last-minute deadlines, but otherwise, when staying in people’s homes and being offered time to spend with them, I am going to accept that this time is fully allocated for togetherness.

Experiment 2: Staying in a hotel near family and working

We just had a family reunion with a group of relatives that we don’t see that often. Due to the large number of people coming, many of us stayed at a hotel a short drive away from the relatives who were hosting, giving us our own private spaces in addition to the common spaces we shared for most of our meals, game playing, and chat. This trip went so much better than the previous family vacation, partially because I tried not to have super high expectations for how much I was going to work each morning (I aimed for 90 minutes, not three hours), but also because I built a structure that worked for me. 

Here’s how it went:

  • This side of the family had many more young children, so when the parents of the group decided to turn in, I eased myself out of the group early as well. I slept more and better, because I’m just fundamentally not a night owl.
  • I woke early (between 6 and 7 a.m. each day) but didn’t rush anything: if I wanted to go for a swim first, I did that, but if I had a good creative idea first, I did that. I let my husband sleep in and I never made plans with the family until after 10 a.m. 
  • This way, I got at least my 90 minutes of work in during my best brain-hours of the day, but I didn’t pressure myself (while on vacation!) to wake up and instantly work.

While I cannot always stay in a hotel or a separate space from family, it made me realize that if I want to get work done while I’m on a trip, I need my own space. Ideally, this space needs to be completely separate from the family gathering, so I don’t feel like I’m making the whole event “less fun” by sneaking away to work on my laptop.

Experiment 3: Visiting a new city with a friend and working

I also recently took a vacation that was peak vacation/work. My friend and I were on the same page: we wanted to see a new city but we also wanted to make a big dent in big creative projects we were working on. We booked a cheap apartment rental for a week, flew to Austin, Texas, and bought groceries to cook together to keep the costs down. Here’s how we made the trip serve both our work and our vacation goals:

  • We figured out our priorities together: what would make this most relaxing for each of us would be waking up at our own pace, exercising, writing for a block in the morning and a block in the afternoon, eating fresh food, and going to see something inspiring/interesting/creative every day. 
  • We aimed to have around four hours per day devoted to writing, but the rest of the time we went for walks, tried every kind of taco we could find, talked about our projects, watched movies, and went to art museums and local theater performances. 
  • It ended up being a very inexpensive vacation, but four hours a day of work felt great, not like a sacrifice: we’d both chosen to work on our least monetized projects, which meant we were really making a dent in work we otherwise rarely got time to prioritize.

This was my first experience that really felt like being a “digital nomad,” and it was really fun and freeing. While I cannot necessarily implement this method of combining work and play on family trips, it made me realize that, if given the opportunity to exercise my creativity while also seeing new things, I really enjoy balancing work and vacation this way.

All in all, I still have things to learn about avoiding being a workaholic, but I think that you can still prioritize your creative work during trips and vacations if you know what you value, realistically estimate your own bandwidth, and take advantage of having your own space. Knowing how to fit in work during a trip can also help you keep your freelancing goals on track, especially during those times where a family visit is more of a necessity than a vacation. You can’t always “work from wherever,” but you can learn how to turn “wherever” into a place where you can get work done.

Read Laura’s previous guest post on how volunteering helps her creative practice.

What Happens When You Take Two Weeks for Vacation

I’ve been back from vacation for nearly as long as I was on vacation, and here’s what I’ve learned:

For the first two days or so, I was overwhelmed by how much I had missed. This had less to do with my freelance clients, who knew I was going to be gone and had prepared for it, than with the general field of “things I want to support.”

The Oh My Dollar! Kickstarter, for example, was almost over. (Yes, I was still able to contribute.)

The second season of An Arm and a Leg had started, and it was too late for me to get out any promo news in time for the release. (I can still promote it now, of course. Like I just did. SNEAKY.)

It felt like there were so many things—though I can only remember a handful of them right now, funny enough—that I could have promoted or written about or shared, but the moment for help had passed.

And then that moment also passed, and a whole bunch of new stuff popped up for me to share and tweet and write about, and I stopped feeling… well, I don’t want to call it FOMO, exactly, but more like Fear Of Not Supporting My Network.

Fear of Not Being There When People Needed Me.

It’s interesting how that fear doesn’t go away, even when you make plans with your various clients and workplaces in advance. (I would probably also have worried that my family might need me while I was gone, except I spent one of the two weeks at a family reunion.)

And then you come back, and things keep moving forward, and you realize that there will always be more chances to help.* ❤️

*Obviously there are some instances in which you only get one chance to help, like that viral story about the woman who asked Reddit if she did the right thing by prioritizing a family vacation over her boyfriend’s mom’s funeral. But you’ll know when those are, and when it’s worth canceling your plans to be present.

The Cost of My Walt Disney World Vacation

According to YNAB, I spent $2,470.87 on my Walt Disney World vacation.

This includes six nights at Port Orleans Riverside, five one-park-per-day tickets, trip insurance, the extra clothing I bought prior to the trip, and all food and merchandise purchased on property. My flight was purchased on points, and I got free checked bags.

I budgeted $2,200 for the entire experience, and when I was creating that budget I added up all the fixed costs (like resorts and tickets) and estimated non-fixed costs (like food and souvenirs) to make sure I could reasonably hit my budgeted number. I had advance dining reservations at certain restaurants, for example, so I was able to look at the menu prices online and make an educated guess on how much I’d spend at each meal.

Where’d the extra $270.87 come from?

Turns out I didn’t budget enough for food, and I definitely didn’t budget enough for water.

If you visit the popular Disney World advice websites, they all tell you not to pay for water. “Every quick-service restaurant will give you a cup of ice water for free! Sometimes they’ll even have coolers and cups available, so you don’t even have to ask!”

Well. Those restaurants may have been offering free cups of ice water, but getting a free cup was not an easy task. None of the quick-service restaurants I walked by had visible coolers of water (interestingly, every table-service restaurant I visited offered a cooler, so you could have a drink while you waited for your reservation to be called). I could have waited in the long quick service lines to ask a Cast Member for free water, but the last thing I wanted to do was wait in more lines.

Fortunately for Disney World (and somewhat fortunately for me), there is a cart selling bottles of water and assorted treats every 50 feet or so. There are so many of these carts that they never have lines, and so I bought bottle after bottle of water because it was 95 degrees and humid and I got very, very thirsty.*

I also bought more food than I was anticipating, even though I had a perfectly good bag of Huel in my hotel room, because I never ended up going back to that hotel room until it was time to sleep. I was totally going to do the whole “rope drop the park, go back to the hotel and relax, go back to the park in the evening” thing, but the bus trip to my resort hotel took an hour each way, so… I just stayed in the parks and took breaks by visiting classic attractions such as The Hall of Presidents and Air Conditioning, The Carousel of Progress Including the Invention of Air Conditioning, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug in an Air-Conditioned Theater.**

So I did a little budget reconfiguration when I got back home, pulling cash out of other YNAB categories (like “dining out” and “home”) to cover the overspending.

As for that spreadsheet I put together before I left… here’s a sample entry:

I spent two days in Magic Kingdom, so if you’re all “but you missed some great rides and parades,” assume I did ’em on the second day.

This spreadsheet was based on information from sites like Touring Plans and EasyWDW, so it included “realistic” estimates of how long it might take to do a thing, but… everything took longer than expected.

I arrived at Magic Kingdom early enough to see the rope (though not early enough to touch it), but I still had a 30-minute wait to board Space Mountain instead of the reported 5-10 minute wait. Then I got delayed after Space Mountain because my purse got stuck in the bag where you stick your bags (a bit of mesh netting was wedged under my zipper pull), so they had to take the entire train out of commission to get my purse out of there. This didn’t shut down the ride, thank goodness; there were other trains running. But it slowed everyone down, so I didn’t get to Small World until after Extra Magic Hour was over, and I didn’t get to ride Haunted Mansion twice in a row because the standby line was already too long (I’d planned to ride it once in standby and then once with my 9:25-10:25 FastPass).

You get the idea. Every plan is perfect until it makes contact with reality, or whatever the quote is.

I did, however, get to ride everything I wanted to ride and see every show I wanted to see (except for Tower of Terror, which was shut down during my Hollywood Studios visit). This wasn’t due to my crafting detailed plans of action before entering the parks, because all of those plans became useless pretty quickly. Instead, it was because I had decided beforehand what I wanted to do and what I wanted to skip, and just stayed in the parks until I’d done everything on my list.

Which cost me an extra $270.87.

It was totally worth it. ❤️

*Yes, there are drinking fountains available. But every Disney World forum warns travelers to STAY AWAY FROM THE DRINKING FOUNTAINS, first because they claim Florida water tastes bad (I drank the water out of the tap at the hotel, it was fine) and second because they claim they’ve seen parents use the drinking fountains as diaper change stations.

**If you have never done It’s Tough to Be a Bug, you need to visit the attraction twice. First to experience the special effects, and second to watch all the other first-timers scream when they experience the special effects. There is never a line for this experience, so you should be able to go back-to-back.

Back From Vacation (and Thoughts on Disney World)

Hi, everyone! I am glad to be back, and even gladder that I scheduled a few “recuperation days” after my travel; I was supposed to get back to Cedar Rapids on Monday evening, but thanks to flight delays didn’t end up getting back until Tuesday afternoon, which meant I had two days in a row of not-enough-sleep and too-much-airport (plus jet lag).

It took me until Thursday to feel well-rested again, at which point I spent half the day cleaning out my inboxes and processing all of the work-related stuff that had arrived or accumulated during my absence.

That meant I was ready to start officially working again on Friday — which is to say, today.

But enough about all of that. HOW WAS THE TRIP, NICOLE?

Here are a few photographs to sum it up:

The requisite Disney PhotoPass “glamour shot.” I actually got a bunch of PhotoPass pictures at various locations but only paid for this one; the other photographers didn’t pose me first and the photos didn’t look as polished.
I tried a character breakfast this time around, after being way too nervous to approach characters on previous Disney adventures. The characters play to type, which means that Mary Poppins gave me a lecture and Pooh gave me a hug.
The food was… not as great as all those Instagrammers made it out to be. It was fine, but nothing I’d call “outstanding.” (Think Applebees, or a college cafeteria.) It photographs extremely well, though.

Since I am all about transparency — though I understand that making this kind of statement is a total “your privilege is showing” move — I’ll tell you that I like Disneyland a lot more than Walt Disney World.

That is, I came back from this vacation thinking “well, I don’t ever need to go back here again.”

This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I did! There were a handful of truly magical moments, nearly all of which took place around 7 a.m. before the parks got both incredibly crowded and incredibly hot.

But it was a completely different experience than my previous Disneyland trips, and I wasn’t expecting that.

I thought it would be, like, visiting this place I loved, only now it’s larger and has more stuff to do.

It was more like this place is so big that we can’t do everything and we’ve spent so much money that we won’t be able to come back for a while and it’s so hot and the lines are so long and everything is a disappointing compromise and I didn’t want our vacation to be this way.

And this, by the way, wasn’t even what I was thinking. It’s what half the people around me were saying out loud, as we moved slowly through the crowded streets or inched forward in the standby lines.

I was thinking this place is fascinating and people are fascinating and I probably shouldn’t be listening to their conversations so closely but I don’t care and it is so hot I am sweating in places that I didn’t know had sweat glands.

I love the whole Disney immersive crafted experience thing, which is one of the reasons I’ve been to Disneyland multiple times as an adult and am still planning on visiting every Disney park in the world.

But when you enter Disneyland, the courtyards are open, spacious, inviting you to explore. There’s just enough to do that you can do everything in two days, with enough time for an afternoon nap.

When you enter the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you get shunted down a path, with fewer open spaces. There’s so much to do that you’ll never do it all; thanks to the crowds and the FastPass system, you have to make choices about what you’ll give up before you even arrive.

And, honestly, I loved that part of Disney World — the big exciting spreadsheetable project, making plans about what to do and where to eat and how much to spend, but that’s because I assumed it would stop feeling like a project after I got there.

It doesn’t.

Now I’ll tell you about some of the magical moments.

The resort was outstanding. Port Orleans Riverside was beautiful, the nature trails were beautifully relaxing, and I saw magnolia trees for the first time.

Like many other people, I was completely blown away by Animal Kingdom’s Pandora section and the entire Flight of Passage experience, which included a 90-minute queue. There was so much to look at, with so much detail, that I never felt bored or impatient. Nor was I tempted to play with my phone (that was one of the best parts of the trip, by the way; staying off my phone).

My favorite part, however, was Extra Magic Hour at Hollywood Studios. I went in ready to rope drop Tower of Terror, since I wanted to get over my fear of falling 13 stories as quickly as possible, but the ride was shut down for the entire day. Slinky Dog Dash was also shut down that morning, which meant the lines for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Toy Story Midway Mania were well over an hour long. (Only the big headliner rides are open during Extra Magic Hour, and the Disney sites claim that if you’re quick enough, you can do all of them. This was never the case in reality.)

So while everyone else was waiting in line, I went in the other direction and began exploring the park. Like, “get up close, read the fine print on the MuppetVision 3D signage” exploring. I looked up, to see the jokes and references Disney placed at the tops of the buildings; I spent time examining structures that I might otherwise rush by. There was something magical or unexpected or humorous everywhere I looked, until Extra Magic Hour was over and the park got too crowded to stand still and look carefully at anything anymore.

That’s one of the reasons why I like going to Disney alone. If I’d gone with a group of people, we’d probably have queued for Midway Mania instead.

That said, the next time I go to Disneyland — and I will go back to Disneyland, though I’m somewhat ambivalent about returning to Disney World — I’d like to go with family or friends.

I’ve experienced the magic for myself. Now it’s time to share it. ❤️

NEXT WEEK: how much I spent, plus some of those spreadsheets y’all asked for.

How to Create the Systems/Structure in Which to Do Your Best Work: Part 1 (of Many)

Last week, I wrote a short post about how we know when we’re doing our best work.

Over the next week (or so), I want to write several posts about how to create the systems and/or structure in which we can do our best work — because although I absolutely agree with the whole “putting your butt in the seat is 90 percent of doing THE WORK” thing, it’s that other 10 percent that can transform THE WORK into your BEST WORK.

(Yes, I know that not all creative work involves a butt in a seat, don’t @ me.)

I’m going to kick this discussion off with something I heard on a recent episode of the Rope Drop Radio podcast, since I currently have Walt Disney World on the brain.

Also, it’s super-relevant.

In Episode 148, Bad Disney Advice, Derek Sasman and Doug McKnight explain why the whole “don’t get your FastPasses 60 days in advance because you don’t know what mood you’ll be in when you visit the parks” thing is terrible advice:

DOUG: I’ll tell you what mood you’re going to be in, in each park, 60 days out. You’re going to be in the Pandora mood, you’re going to be in the Slinky Dog mood, you’re going to be in the Space Mountain mood, what other mood am I missing? Test Track, Soarin’ mood? Come on, folks. Maybe a Frozen mood? I don’t even know you, and I know what mood you’re in when you’re going to walk around the park. But then you’re going to be miserable —

DEREK: Because you’re going to be waiting in line for two hours [without a FastPass].

DOUG: Have fun with that.

I agree with the gist of this — like, most people who visit WDW are going to want to ride one of the big headliner rides, and getting a FastPass in advance will help with that — but I want to look more closely at the word mood.

Because, as anyone who’s ever done a family vacation (or any kind of vacation) knows, you can spend six months thinking about how much fun it’ll be to ride Space Mountain and then, on the day of, you’ll be in the tired mood or the hungover mood or the my feet hurt mood or the if my dear loved one complains or whines one more time I’m going to scream mood.

So what you actually have to plan for, in addition to the FastPass, is how to be in a Space Mountain mood on the day you’re going to ride Space Mountain.*

I’d say “what does this have to do with creating your BEST WORK,” but I’m pretty sure you’ve already put it together. Planning to work on your project at a certain time, getting your butt in that seat, is only half of it.

The other half is doing your best to come to that seat in the right mood.

This is why you see many creative types say things like “I don’t check the news or social media until I’ve completed my work session, because I don’t want to see something that might turn my thoughts away from THE WORK.”

Why Tara K. Shepersky’s writing ritual included an early-morning walk before she sat down at her QWERTY.

Why I don’t do email until 10 a.m.

Those are just some of the systems and structures people put into place to help them do their BEST WORK — but, as this post title suggests, they aren’t the only ones.

We’ll discuss more tomorrow. ❤️

*Take this advice from someone who had Blue Bayou reservations and then ate this nasty Galactic Grill** meal that made her feel so gross that, two hours later, she wasn’t in a Blue Bayou mood. HUGE REGRETS. 

**Do not make the mistake of walking up to the Galactic Grill and thinking “yay, a place with no line!”

On Preparing Your Audience for the Experience They Want to Have

Soooooo… as I hinted last week, I’m going to Walt Disney World this summer.

(Technically, since I’m going at the end of May, it’s this spring. But it’s after Memorial Day so most of us will consider it “summer.”)

At first I thought I liked Disney parks (and other amusement parks) because I liked rides; after I made my first solo trip to Disneyland two years ago I realized that I loved the solo Disney experience.

I am not the first person to discover that exploring the parks on your own can be, to borrow Disney’s favorite word, magical.*

I haven’t visited WDW since I went with my family in high school literally twenty years ago (I was seventeen); it’s changed a lot since then. Unlike Disneyland, which you can do on a morning’s notice, Walt Disney World now invites — if not requires — you to plan your vacation several months in advance.

And they guide you through the process in a way that is — did I use the word magical already? — fascinating.


The first step in the typical WDW vacation planning process is choosing a resort hotel. (This step tends to go hand-in-hand with picking the vacation dates, though it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing depending on whether you’re more flexible on dates or more flexible on resorts.)

As of this writing, you have thirty-four resort options. Each with a different theme, a specific price point, and the promise of a certain type of experience.

I picked the Port Orleans Riverside resort (which falls in the middle of the price points) because it promised me the experience of elegance combined with nature; I paid $10 extra per night for a garden-view room, and I am already fantasizing about the walking trails.

Port Orleans Riverside is also one of the quieter resorts (it literally has “quiet pools” that are separate from the big waterslide pool where you take the kids, which is in turn very far away from the hotel rooms), so it also promises the experience of being able to retreat and relax after the excitement of the parks.

And, to ensure I get to fulfill that promise of retreating and relaxing and rejuvenating myself amidst all this elegance and nature, I booked a stay long enough to allow me to enjoy both the parks and the resort.

So Disney makes even more money off my visit.**

Win-win.

Once you take care of that hotel booking, you get to start making dining reservations. You can make these reservations 180 days in advance. This is where the typical vacationer starts heading down one of four paths:

  1. “Nope, we’re bringing our own food into the park” (a perfectly viable option)
  2. “Whatever, we’ll figure it out when we get there” (also viable, but it means you and your traveling party won’t be able to get into any of the most popular restaurants)
  3. “Wow, there are a lot of restaurants, this Be Our Guest place sounds good, let’s just pick that one” (totally acceptable)
  4. “I AM GOING TO LOOK AT EVERY RESTAURANT AND EVERY MENU BEFORE I DECIDE” (that one’s me)

Notice how each person and/or traveling party is beginning to refine the experience they want.

Also pay attention to the way that Disney is providing its guests with entertainment — because a lot of us consider shopping and planning and thinking about where we might like to eat entertainment — a full six months before we set foot on resort property.

This entertainment, in the form of choice-making and experience-refinement, proceeds at regular intervals. At 60 days out, resort guests can begin selecting FastPasses (to get a shorter wait on certain rides). Guests that want the best options can set their alarms to 7 a.m. Eastern on their 60-day mark, so they can book at the first possible moment. All of this is exciting and novel and full of possibility.

And then the customized MagicBands arrive. In a beautiful box, in the mail.

And then it’s close enough to your vacation that you can contact your resort to request the individual room or block of rooms you want, if you’re so far down the mouse hole that you’ve researched individual rooms. (That is also me. I am going to make that call. Apparently they try to honor as many requests as possible.)

And during all of this time you’ve probably been buying special clothes to wear on your trip or thinking about the souvenirs you might buy on your trip or drooling over photos of donuts and Dole Whips on Instagram. Maybe you just rewatched The Princess and the Frog because Port Orleans Riverside is Princess and the Frog-themed and you want to make sure to catch all the visual references. Maybe you’re going to watch James Cameron’s Avatar for the first time because you want to ride Flight of Passage.

Etc.

By the time you make your trip, you’ve already been experiencing your Disney vacation for months.


Sooooo…. what does any of this have to do with our creative work?

This:

That kind of tweet serves four purposes:

  1. It presents an honest depiction of what it takes to draft a novel.
  2. It encourages other writers who might be considering drafting a novel.
  3. It begins to prepare readers for the experience they might get with this particular novel. This is a book for people who know what a tetromino is (or who are willing to look it up).
  4. It gets those readers excited about the possibility of having that experience with this novel.

Not everybody is going to be part of your readership or audience, just like not everybody is going to enjoy a week at a Disney resort.

But for those people who are part of your audience, well… let’s just say that I am currently studying the Disney method of bringing you into the experience months before the experience actually begins.***

Because I know I’ll learn something from it. ❤️

*One of the reasons I like going to Disney parks alone is because it is one of the few experiences that feels like the type of immersive exploration you get to do in video games. If you want to wander down some path and see where it leads, you can. If you want to follow the fastest route to the scariest ride first, you can. If you want to sit and enjoy the sensory detail, you can. (You could do a lot of this at any standard nature path for free, but those tend not to have rides. Or soundtracks. Or detailed walkthroughs with six pages of hints and secrets.)

**Arguably Disney would have made just the same amount of money whether I had booked a four-night stay or a six-night stay; they could have sold those other two nights to someone else, after all.

***Yes, I know that Disney is not the only entity to use this technique. Every author with a cover reveal, every movie with a cast reveal and then a poster reveal and then a trailer, etc. etc. etc. does this. But Disney does it exceptionally well.

Saturday Open Thread

Time to discuss WHATEVER’S ON YOUR MIND.

I’ve got vacation on the brain, first because it’s Spring Break and a lot of people I know are either traveling or getting back from travel or preparing to travel, and second because I just started planning my own vacation for this summer. (More on this next week. It ties into the creative practice, I promise.)

So chat about travel, or… whatever you’d like! ❤️